Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on Monday apppointed a Coptic Christian intellectual and a woman university professor as presidential assistants, his spokesman Yasser Ali announced.
Samir Morcos, a liberal Coptic writer engaged in the dialogue between Islam and Christianity, has been named "assistant for democratic transition", Ali said.
Pakinam al-Sharkawi, a political sciences professor at Cairo university, was appointed "assistant for political affairs," he added.
The president also chose two assistants from the Islamist camp.
Emad Abdel Ghafour, the leader of the ultra-conservative Al-Nur Salafist party, was named "assistant in charge of relations with civil society" while Essam al-Haddad from the Muslim Brotherhoood's Freedom and Justice Party becomes assistant for "external relations and international cooperation."
Morsi, who was fielded for the presidential elections by the Freedom and Justice Party, had pledged during his campaign to include Copts in his administration.
But the Coptic community, which represents 14 percent of Egypt's 82 million people, was unhappy over the composition of the country's new cabinet which was sworn in in early August and includes only two women, one of them a Copt.
Sharkawi, who wears the veil despite not being affiliated with any Islamist party, told the independent Al-Masri al-Youm newspaper on Monday that the Muslim Brotherhood is an "expression of a moderate Islam."
The Salafist party Al-Nur had surprised everyone by wining nearly 20 percent of the seats in multi-phase parliamentary elections that concluded earlier this year.
Haddad is a member of the Freedom and Justice Party which had won most seats in the legislative polls.
These four assistants, who are destined to be close associates of the president, are part of a broader group of 17 people chosen to become "presidential advisers."
Morsi, who took office on June 30, is the first president of Egypt to come from an Islamist camp and also the first civilian head of state since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952.
He won the first presidential election since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 with a short margin in the second round after clashing with Ahmed Shafiq, the last premier of the deposed regime.
On August 12, Morsi significantly strengthened his powers by retiring veteran Defence Minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and scrapping a constitutional document that gave the military legislative and other powers.© ANP/AFP