Egyptian Coptic leader Pope Shenouda III called for a secular state in Egypt in light of calls by Islamic groups to establish an Islamic regime.
Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi leaders have recently expressed this intention.
The Brotherhood’s Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater said Thursday that the group is preparing to install an Islamic government.
Leaders of the group, which was banned under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, said they are seeking models for a democratic country based on Islamic principles.
The statements were criticized by Copts and others.
Shenouda told state TV on Sunday, “We want Egypt to be a democratic civilian country.” He expressed a wish that Egypt will revive its leading position in the Middle East.
He said that the 25 January revolution was a peaceful one that called for values and concepts in which everyone believes. He hoped that such ideas will be realized so reform can be achieved.
Shenouda said all Egyptians seek peace, adding that no clashes between Muslims and Copts erupted during the first days of the revolution, but those that took place in Minya and Qena afterwards damaged the country’s interests.
The city of Abu Qerqas in Minya witnessed sectarian clashes last week in which two were killed. Citizens in Qena have been calling for a new governor since a Coptic one, associated with the former regime, was appointed.