AFRICA/EGYPT - President al-Sisi attends Coptic Christmas mass at Cairo Abbasiya Cathedral

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Cairo (Agenzia Fides) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi attended Christmas mass at Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral , where he greeted Coptic Christians in a speech on Tuesday January 6. "The Egyptian President’s attendance at the religious service - refers Anba Antonios Aziz Mina, Coptic Catholic Bishop of Giza to Agenzia Fides - is a new event in the history of Egypt: in the past, the Presidents sent their representatives. Previous Egyptian Presidents - including Hosni Mubarak and Islamist Mohamed Morsi –wished the pope a merry Christmas over the telephone, while others - like Gamal Abd el-Nasser and former interim President Adli Mansour - had made a courtesy visit to the Patriarch a few days before the Coptic Christmas".
During the celebration, broadcast by State TV, President al-Sisi gave a brief speech while standing next to Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the highest Coptic authority in Egypt. "The President - reports Anba Antonios to Fides - said that throughout the years, Egypt taught the world civilization and humanity, and the world expects a lot from Egypt during the current circumstances. Moreover - adds the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Giza - al-Sisi reiterated that when one speaks of the Egyptian people, further division specifications have to be avoided and one must not ask 'What kind of Egyptian are you?'. A way to say that what matters is the common and shared citizenship, beyond the cultural and religious differences''.
A few days ago, President al-Sisi gave a speech to representatives and professors at the University of al-Azhar and urged religious leaders of Islam to promote a "Religious revolution" in order to eradicate bigotry and replace it with a "more enlightened vision of the world" if they do not want to take "before God", the responsibility of having led the Islamic Community on the paths of ruin (see Fides 02/01/2015). (GV) (Agenzia Fides 07/01/2015)