Coptic priest apologizes for shaking hands with military general

Yohana Fouad, the priest of the Virgin Church in Old Cairo, apologized to his congregation for having greeted the head of military police Hamdy Badin, who is blamed for the killing of Christian protesters in October, during Christmas mass in the Cathedral the night before.

“I apologize that I kissed him and shook hands with him, and I apologize that I took a picture with him,” said Fouad, who appeared in a YouTube video posted on Sunday.

He added that the widely-condemned military general took him by surprise.

Badin attended the Christmas mass among other members of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and greeted Pope Shenouda and other priests.

Pope Shenouda welcomed and praised the military rulers, angering some of those attending mass, who shouted inside the cathedral, “Down with the military rule!”

“You have to know that your priest is honest and has to say the truth. These people are unjust. They are liars and they are thieves, holding on to power,” said Fouad, referring to the military rulers, who he says attended the Christmas Mass in an attempt to improve their image.

Christians criticized the church for receiving the military rulers after what has been dubbed “the Maspero Massacre.”

On 9 October, a protest of mostly Christians that marched from Shubra, demanding equal rights for Copts, and was brutally attacked by military forces as it reached the Maspero state TV building. Twenty-eight protesters were killed. Some of the victims were run over by military trucks and others were shot with live ammunition.

Muslim and Coptic religious figures in Egypt are traditionally reluctant to speak up against authority. However, at the funeral of the deceased protestors of Maspero on 10 October, many Coptic clergymen joined the chants of “Down with military rule!”

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