Coptic Christians in Egypt got their chance to celebrate their first Christmas since the Egyptian revolution. Their pope called for national unity and peace, amid fears that the Coptic community will suffer persecution under Islamic majority rule.
Despite the fact that the Copts of Egypt boast the largest Christian population in the middle east, they only account for 10% of the Egyptian population, making them a slim minority. With all of the upheaval and ideological in-fighting among Islamic groups since the (mostly) peaceful overthrow of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the Copts are worried that an Islamic power structure would hurt their legitimacy, especially amid constant rumors of Sharia implementation (which as of now are indeed only paranoid rumors).
The Christmas celebration call for unity was a good move for the Copts, however. Prominent figures from across the political landscape, including Muslim Brotherhood leaders and military council members, were in attendance at Friday night’s mass in Cairo’s Coptic cathedral.
Coptic pope, Shenouda III, acknowledged their presence and appealed to peace for “the sake of Egypt”. He said this:
“For the first time in the history of the cathedral, it is packed with all types of Islamist leaders in Egypt. They all agree … on the stability of this country, and in loving it and working for it, and to work with the Copts as one hand for the sake of Egypt.”
This call for unity follows increasing violence against the Copts over the past year. Most Christians in the middle east blame such attacks on Islamic extremist minority groups, who have grown ever more bold since Mubarak’s downfall.
There seems to only ever be bad news about Christian groups, and while many of them are indeed unreasonable, it’s good to see good examples from a religion with just as much legitimacy as any other. Here’s hoping, and indeed praying, that Egypt finds its way to cooperation and peace.
What do you think? Does this service show a great potential for the cooperation of Egypt’s diverse perspectives and faiths as they rebuild their nation?