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'A divine act': Egyptian religious leaders hail anniversary of Sisi's takeover

Muslim and Christian officials commemorate 30 June protests and the subsequent coup, while backing controversial economic reforms
Former Egypt Mufti Ali Gumah (left) and Egypt Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II (Reuters)

Egyptian religious leaders have hailed the protests that led to the overthrow of Egypt's first elected president five years ago with public statements likening them to divine acts and the early Muslim conquests. 

On 30 June 2013, Egyptians opposed to then-president Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, staged nationwide protests against his rule.

Three days into the protests, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was then serving as defence minister, ousted Morsi in a military coup that saw scores of unarmed protesters killed as they demonstrated against the takeover. 

In a TV interview on Saturday, Egypt’s former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa likened the 30 June protests to “the conquest of Mecca and the birth of Prophet Muhammad”.

“The day of Allah is the day on which the believers defeated the unbelievers… they have always been in conflict with the believers. 30 June is a day of Allah. That means it is the day on which Allah granted victory to his worshipper and dignity to his soldiers,” he said.

'30 June is a day of Allah. That means it is the day on which Allah granted victory to his worshipper and dignity to his soldiers'

- Ex-Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa

Gomaa is known for fatwas and public statements backing successive Egyptian leaders.

Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar Mosque, issued a statement congratulating Egyptians on the fifth anniversary of the 30 June protests. 

Tayeb congratulated Sisi and asked the Egyptian people to work diligently to achieve the objectives of the so-called 30 June revolution. 

Meanwhile, Mohamed al-Mahrasawy, head of al-Azhar's university, which is known as Sunni Islam’s most prestigious institution, described the events as a "glorious popular uprising".

He also praised "Egypt's wise policy-making", which he said "seeks to protect the nation's wealth and security".

Coptic backing

Similarly, Coptic Christian leaders celebrated the anniversary as a “divine act”. 

In his weekly sermon, the head of Egypt’s Coptic Church Pope Tawadros II hailed the events that “gave Egypt the beginning of life”, and conveyed his backing for Sisi's economic reforms, which are hitting Egyptian pockets hard.

'Even if we suffer now because of economic reforms, we are confident that we are moving in the right direction'

- Pope Tawadros II

“The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a step. We are in the first step. Even if we suffer now because of economic reforms, we are confident that we are moving in the right direction and that projects in energy and many other areas will bear fruit."

Meanwhile, Coptic Bishop Paula, from the Nile Delta city of Tanta, said during a sermon in Australia on Sunday: “The 30 June revolution … was a divine act."

"Egypt was descending into the abyss and darkness, it was exposed to something that only God knew," he added. "But the hand of God rescued Egypt through this revolution.”

Despite multiple accusations of human rights abuses, Sisi and his government have had the support of key religious figures and institutions since Morsi's overthrow.

Gomaa and Pope Tawadros II sat next to him during his televised coup announcement on 3 July 2013.