Egyptian President Attends Coptic Christmas Service

Al-Sisi’s Visit Marks 1st Time a Head of State Participates in Celebration

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Egypt’s President Abdel Fattal al-Sisi attended Christmas services at St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral on Tuesday evening, marking a first in Egypt’s history. The Coptic Orthodox Church observes Christmas on Jan. 7, the date given according to the Gregorian calendar.

According to Fides News Agency, President al-Sisi arrived at the Christmas Eve liturgy on Jan. 6, which was celebrated by Coptic Pope Tawadros II. Coptic Catholic Bishop Anba Antonios Aziz Mina of Giza reflected on the significance of the President’s visit.

«The Egyptian President’s attendance at the religious service is a new event in the history of Egypt,” he said. “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».

Bishop Mina also told Fides that President al-Sisi delivered a brief address in which he highlighted Egypt’s contribution of world civilization and humanity to the world in the past.

“Moreover, 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’,” Bishop Mina proposed.

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