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Tawadros faces tremendous challenges as the country’s transition to democracy is marred by a deep rift between increasingly politically powerful Islamist groups, from which the country’s new president hails, and the liberal and secularist groups who were initially behind the revolt that ousted President Hosni Mubarak last year.

At the center of the political squabbling in Egypt is the role of Islam in the country’s new constitution, currently being drafted. The Christians, along with liberal and secularists, oppose demands by Islamists to increase the role of Islamic Shariah law.

Mr. Morsi has named a number of Christians as advisers and vowed to work closely with the community, but Christians are skeptical. Late Saturday, Pachomios said during a popular TV program on the private station al-Nahar that Christians have never held senior state posts or leading positions such as university deans in Egypt’s modern history. He also insisted there be no clause in the constitution allowing state monitoring of the church’s finances, a demand often made by Islamists.