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UPDATED: Sisi first Egyptian President to attend Coptic Christmas mass

Ahram Online , Tuesday 6 Jan 2015
Egypt
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, right, visits Coptic Pope Tawadros II, center, during Christmas Eve Mass at St. Mark's Cathedral, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015 (Photo: AP)
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Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has attended the Coptic Christmas mass to mark the first attendance ever made by an Egyptian president to the religious occasion.

El-Sisi arrived at Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo's Abbasiya district during the mass and gave a brief speech before leaving instantly.

He said that both of Egypt's Muslims and Christians are celebrating this occasion, asserting that they are "one entity" in the world's eyes.

He added that he had to come to congratulate the Coptic community and then apologised for interrupting the mass.

Video footage broadcast by State TV – covering the full mass – showed crowds cheering as El-Sisi entered the Cathedral with churchmen and saluted Pope Tawadros II.

Former Egyptian heads of state have visited the Cathedral including Gamal Abd El-Nasser and interim President Adly Mansour, but this is the first time for a president to attend the mass.

The annual Coptic mass was advanced by a tight security presence as Christian sites have been previously targeted by sectarian attacks.

 On New Year’s Day in 2011, a deadly bombing at a church in Alexandria killed 23 people.

On Tuesday, unknown gunmen shot and killed two Egyptian policemen guarding a Catholic church in the southern Egyptian city of Minya.

Churches and Christian properties have also come under attack as a wave of violence spreads across Egypt, mostly focused on police and army personnel.

This was most notable on 14 August 2013 when the deadly dispersal of two pro-Morsi protest camps was followed by attacks on dozens of churches especially in Upper Egypt.

Coptic Orthodox Christians, who make up around 90 percent of Egypt’s Christians, break their 43-day fast and celebrate Christmas on 7 January, almost two weeks after most Western denominations. The difference results from the use of different calendars.

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Abba Serekebirhan Woldesamuel
08-01-2015 03:21pm
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just greetings
when I was the picture of His Excellency President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi with His holiness Pope Tawadros II side the Coptic Orthodox Church during Christmas Eve Mass at St. Mark's Cathedral, I praised to the Almighty God for His mercy. I can say, the president is very very open mind and very intelligent and he is a visionary person. I hope that our brothers and sisters the people of Egypt will follow him and support him as well as pray for him. This is the time of Africa to be united and to work to gather. may the Almighty God bless the entire Africa and the rest of the world. Wishing you all the best.
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Ilias K
07-01-2015 11:18pm
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Balance
Your President's strategic movement to attend the Christmas mass shows he is a man of brilliant balance, a man who is well aware of what his people -independently of religion or any other distinctions- actually need. Up with him! And, by the way, I feel very safe in this country, thanks to his policies and that is what I let my friends from abroad know.
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Carole T.
07-01-2015 10:48am
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Al-Sisi's visit to Mass
Now that Al-Sisi has opened the door to prove better government relations with the Copts of Egypt will the ones who left under Morsi return?
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George
07-01-2015 04:24am
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God bless Egypt the blessed land & people
Egypt has been in a storm of unrest for a long time due to elements of the community that benefit from creating havoc by attacking the soft & easy targets like the minority Copts Christians which for a very very long time have been brothers & sisters to all , I remember very well at Christmas time as a young boy my mother use to send me with a plate of biscuits in hand to Moslem neighbours whom were as close as family to us to celebrate the occasion together as one family especially that the same was the trend on all Moslem occasion to give to all Christian friends & neighbors , we were brought up to love each and every one on his own merits which our God blessed president El Sisi is showing here with his visit the Cathedral on Christmas eve which as mentioned didn't happen since Gamal Abdel Nasser's time , I sincerely hope that love & peace can grow stronger between all of Egypt disregarding of religion or color , and thank you for your efforts to provide our views freely
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K73
07-01-2015 01:23am
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Thank you
Thank you Sisi for your support, you are one great leader ! I am not just saying that because of his visit but also for all he has done these past months, Egypt has seen amazing progress with Sisi.
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Phil 2
07-01-2015 01:01am
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Smart idea
Al Sisi is doing everything correctly. He is very wise and very well respected by Israel and the world. May allah grant him only nagah and falah,amin
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democracia
06-01-2015 11:08pm
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Bravo
BRAVO! That's a clear message to all those dividing and violating society by religion!
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Neo
06-01-2015 10:46pm
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Excellent move Mr. President …
Mr. El-Sisi knows that he is the president for all the Egyptian people; Muslims, Christians, and the few Jews who still live amongst us. One of the best way to show the county, our backward regions, and the world, that Egypt might be ready to chart a new course of religious tolerance and freedom. Perhaps the next brave move is to appoint a Christian Vice President! Bravo Mr. President.
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