Egyptian President, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi had on Saturday evening participated in the Coptic Christmas Eve celebration held at a new, partly-opened cathedral in the country’s new administrative capital city eastern Cairo.
The new unfinished cathedral, named the Nativity of Christ, is said to be the largest in the Middle East region.
“This partial opening of the cathedral is a very important message of peace and love not only to Egyptians but to the whole world,” Mr sisi said.
“We love you. We are one united people and no one can ever divide us,” Mr Sisi told the cheering Copts ahead of the Christmas Mass that is rarely held outside the main St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo.
Copts constitute to about 10 percent of Egypt’s 100-million population and most of Egypt’s Copts belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, which celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7.
Mr Sisi’s remarks came amid a wave of anti-Coptic church terrorist attacks that killed over a hundred since late 2016, with most of them claimed by a Sinai-based terrorist group loyal to the regional Islamic State, IS, group.
Mr Sisi told the attendees at the cathedral that “the people of evil” will not be able to harm Egypt as long as the Egyptians are united.
In the meantime, tens of thousands of soldiers and policemen were deployed across the country on Saturday to secure the Christians and their churches on the eve of Orthodox Christmas.
“The security patrols and joint combat groups have also intensified their deployment at the streets and main squares to deal with any law-breaking attempts and provide security and safety to all citizens nationwide,” the Egyptian military spokesman said in a statement Saturday.