In a speech on Thursday, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi warned against sectarian tensions, rejecting the differentiation between Egyptians on religious grounds, further asserting that any violations would be faced with accountability by the rule of law.
“Whoever commits mistakes will be held accountable. There is no doubt to it, I speak for myself first. It applies to me as well,” Al-Sisi said in his speech at the Military Academy, while attending a graduation ceremony ahead of the commemoration of the 23 July 1952 revolution.
The president’s statements come in the wake of an increasing number of reported attacks on Copts in different parts of Egypt, in particular in the governorate of Minya.
Pope Tawadros II was among the attendees of the ceremony. “Allow me to take the time to speak of national unity, as we have previously warned about conspiracies intended to spark conflicts among Egyptians,” Al-Sisi stated.
He continued: “I ask you please, be careful. We’re all parts of the nation and have equal rights. This is not just mere talk; it needs to be practiced. We are 90 million people. If we keep having radical reactions towards daily accidents, it is not going to be in our best interest as a nation,” Al-Sisi stated.
“We will not accept the differentiation between an Egyptian Muslim and an Egyptian Copt,” he added, calling on state institutions, along with the people, to adopt behavioural changes towards the issue.
However, in the past week, the state’s lack of real response to reported incidents of sectarianism was heavily criticised. Non-governmental organisations and politicians condemned the resolution to customary reconciliation councils, as they seek legal accountability of those responsible for sectarian strife.
Meanwhile, Al-Sisi stressed on the role of the army in leading Egypt’s “pursuits for the demands of the 1952 revolution, among other institutions”.
“We are on the right track, and we know we can keep developing our nation and society,” he said. Al-Sisi spoke of more national projects to come that will achieve “balanced development”, as well as priorities, such as improving the living conditions of the less privileged, education, and healthcare.
On the regional level, the president claimed supporting political solutions to countries in turmoil, topped by the Palestinian case. “Egypt is now playing a real, essential role in reviving the peace talks,” he said. This follows a recent visit by Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Minister to Israel.
Lastly, the president praised achievements on the international level, stating that “Egypt is gaining more international trust, which is highly appreciated,” referring to its membership and role in the United Nations Security Council and the African Union.