President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made a quick appearance at Tuesday night’s Christmas Eve mass at Cairo’s Abbasseya Cathedral in Cairo. Sisi is the first Egyptian president to attend the mass.
Hours earlier, Sisi had just arrived back in Egypt from a visit to Kuwait to discuss future economic and political collaborations. During his visit, he was gifted the Mubarak Al-Kabber medal — Kuwait’s highest accolade — “as a form of appreciation for Sisi and the Egyptian people,” the privately owned newspaper Youm7 reported.
The president made a brief speech while standing next to Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the highest Coptic authority in Egypt.
“It was necessary for me to come here to wish you a merry Christmas, and I hope I haven’t disturbed your prayers. Throughout the years, Egypt taught the world civilization and humanity, and the world expects a lot from Egypt during the current circumstances,” Sisi said.
“It’s important for the world to see this scene, which reflects true Egyptian unity, and to confirm that we’re all Egyptians, first and foremost. We truly love each other without discrimination, because this is the Egyptian truth,” the president declared.
The Coptic Pope thanked Sisi, and called his visit “a pleasant surprise and a humanitarian gesture.”
“We feel that our Egypt is entering a new era with new thoughts and spirit. We are building it together for the future of our children, and to place Egypt in a suitable position among the world’s countries,” Tawadros added.
Sisi left the cathedral following his quick speech amid applause and tightened security measures.
Earlier on Tuesday, Christian congregations in Minya released a statement announcing the cancelation of Wednesday’s Christmas celebrations in solidarity with the families of the two policemen who died in the morning. The policemen were shot by unidentified gunmen while they were guarding the Church of the Virgin Mary in Minya.