Representatives of President Mohamed Morsi distanced the presidency from a statement released by Presidential Foreign Affairs Advisor Essam Haddad, said secretary to the pope Father Angeleos Ishaq.
During an interview on Al-Tahrir satellite channel on Tuesday night, Father Angeleos also confirmed that Advisor for Societal Communications Emad Abdel Ghaffor, Assistant for Political Affairs Pakinam Sharqawy, and advisor for Egyptians abroad Ayman Ali visited St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral.
The delegation came to the church in order to “convey a clear message that the church is a Coptic Egyptian symbol that cannot be violated”, according to a statement from the presidency.
The presidential team was received by Bishop Ermia and Bishop Moussa. The statement said the group discussed the need to develop preventative measures to “protect national unity”.
Father Angeleos added in his interview that church officials handed over evidence allegedly proving the role of “infiltrators” in attempting to compromise the security of the cathedral. He also said that there would be a prayer service for the dead sometime next week on a date to be determined.
Haddad’s statement, which was released on Monday, held mourners leaving the Sunday funeral at the cathedral responsible for the violence, insisting the group inflamed the situation by vandalising cars and then people on their side fired guns.
His statement also praised the work of the Ministry of Interior, saying it was committed to self-restraint. He called the outbreak of sectarian violence “alien to the Egyptian people” and promised the state would hold the assailants accountable.
Despite the presidential team’s insistence that Haddad’s statement did not reflect the position of the presidency, its official Twitter account denied Angeleos’ claim on Tuesday night.
Pope Tawadros II cancelled his weekly Wednesday sermon in mourning for the events. In an interview on Tuesday he voiced his disappointment in inaction on the part of the state and President Morsi, and considered the attack on the cathedral unprecedented.