Cairo: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi named his four assistants on Monday comprising a liberal Christian, a hardline Islamist and a woman as he sought to reach out beyond his power base in the Muslim Brotherhood to rival groups.
The appointments were seen as a balancing act between Egypt’s Coptic minority, which has felt threatened by Morsi’s Islamist roots, and the Brotherhood’s ultra-conservative Salafist rivals.
Morsi wanted to give representation to “all strands of political opinion and all components of society,” his spokesman Yasser Ali said, announcing the appointments, AFP reported.
Samir Morcos, a Coptic writer engaged in the dialogue between Islam and Christianity, was named “assistant for democratic transition”.
Since the overthrow of veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak early last year, Copts has been hit by mounting violence.
Morsi had pledged during his presidential election campaign to include Copts in his administration but the community was unhappy over the composition of the new cabinet sworn in earlier this month which included just one Copt — one of two women ministers, both in low profile posts.
Washington last month voiced concern over “both the Egyptian government’s failure to curb rising violence against Coptic Christians and its involvement in violent attacks”.
As a counterbalance, Morsi named as “assistant in charge of relations with civil society” the leader of the Salafists’ Al-Nur party, Emad Abdel Ghafour.
The four assistants are complemented by a broader group of 17 “presidential advisers” also drawn from across the spectrum.
“It is a diverse team, reflecting different currents of opinion, which is good,” Sharkawi told AFP after her appointment. “I don’t think that there will be conflicts within the team,” she added.