Egyptian security blocked priests from ElBaradei meeting, say activists

Minya— Egyptian security forces have prevented Christian religious figures from attending a meeting with Mohamed ElBaradei, former International Atomic Energy Agency chief, in Upper Egypt, said activists on Saturday.  

Ziad el-Eleimy, an activist from the National Association for Change (NAC), told Al-Masry Al-Youm that security forces denied entry to one Coptic and two Anglican priests who were to meet with ElBaradei in the village of Kafr Medawar in Minya on Saturday.  

Security officials could not be reached for comment.

The Coptic Orthodox Church previously received ElBaradei following his return to Egypt earlier this year.

ElBaradei had said he may run for the presidency in 2011, but later said he had no intention to run.

Coptic church officials, however, said they will support President Hosni Mubarak if he decides to run for a sixth presidential term.

Copts are wary of ElBaradei’s strong relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, which managed to gather around half a million signatures for the former’s 2011 presidential bid.

ElBaradei, meanwhile, says he supports the establishment of a secular state that respects the rights of religious minorities.

The relationship between the Coptic church and the state have become increasingly tense over the past few months, and more so after clashes erupted between Copts and police over the construction of a church in Omraniya, Giza.

The confrontations left two Copts dead and led to the arrest of dozens others.

The Coptic church also voiced its discontent over the fact that the ruling National Democratic Party did not field Coptic candidates in the recently concluded parliamentary poll.

This is ElBaradei’s first visit to Minya after his return to Egypt on Sunday.

ElBaradei is scheduled to meet with a number of politicians, including Saad al-Katatni, a leader from the Brotherhood, George Ishaq, from the NAC, and Osama al-Ghazali Harb, president of the Democratic Front Party.

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