Egypt's Pope Shenouda III, the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, appealed for calm following the bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria New Year's eve. "I call on our sons for calm, for calm can solve all issues," the Coptic leader said in an interview with Egyptian state television Monday night. "It is the first time that such a bombing has taken place," he said, "that is why we were all in panic".
"The slogans used by some [Coptic protestors] have transgressed all values and modes of behavior... and some have tried to resort to violence, but violence is absolutely not a method of ours," he said, blaming unspecified people he said were alien to his flock.
He added that, "We can not prevent people from expressing their sorrow, yet I ask them to express their feelings without violence. I am glad that many Muslims joined [in the protests] which shows that all are against terrorism and sectarian violence. The attack brought us together and we have to unite against the enemy that aims to weaken our bonds."
The Pope also called on the government to address his flock's grievances. "I believe that the state has a duty to solve Copts' problems," Shenouda said, adding, "We all believe in the rule of law and the importance of law and order. A state would collapse if the law was not implemented, but we want equality."
"Citizenship is a great principle," said Shenouda, "but many don’t understand it, for it means equality."
"We must be alert to all kinds of discrpencies taking place in the our society. We should face problems and work on solving them because if we just ignore them, it will get worst," the Patriarch said.
Shenouda affirmed that the Orthodox Church will celebrate Christmans because "we are celebrating the birth of Jesus and without Jesus we wouldn't have been Christians. If we don't celebrate it will bring more damage than good."