News / Middle East

Egypt’s Coptic Christians Prepare to Celebrate Christmas Eve Mass Amid Tight Security

Egyptian Coptic priests pray during Christmas mass at Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo (file photo)
Egyptian Coptic priests pray during Christmas mass at Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo (file photo)

Egypt’s Coptic Christian Pope Shenouda III has called for his community to celebrate orthodox Christmas as usual, starting with midnight mass. But services will commence with security forces are on high alert to prevent threatened terrorist attacks by al-Qaida.

Egyptian security forces deployed in force in front of the Saint Mary Coptic church in the upscale Cairo suburb of Zamalek. Metal barricades blocked parts of roads and police kept motorists from parking too close to the building.

Related video report by Elizabeth Lee


One Christian man who asked not to use his name told VOA he is fearful that "despite all the security measures being deployed by the government, the terrorists will still try to strike."

The al-Qaida terrorist group has urged its followers to attack Coptic churches in Egypt on several militant Islamic web sites.

Mark, another young Coptic Christian told VOA that he was "not afraid to die" and that he planned to attend midnight mass as usual." Coptic Pope Shenouda III has told his followers that he would "not allow the terrorists to spoil Christmas celebrations."

Many Islamic leaders have asked their followers to show solidarity with Copts and to form human shields around churches to prevent terrorism or violence. A Sheikh in the Cairo suburb of Helwan said Muslims must condemn terrorism.

He says he is asking the entire Egyptian population to form a solid front against the "terrorist explosion in front of Alexandria’s All Saints Coptic church Saturday."

Coptic Church leaders have been urging their followers not to take out their anger against Muslims for Saturday’s terrorist explosion, but to show love instead.

The Bishop of Helwan, Anba Pacenti, insisted that everyone should be kind to one another, and not seek revenge.

He said that love means that we all ask for a sign of love from one another, offering a kind word or a good deed, and to love everyone.

The Egyptian press noted General Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud has made "significant progress" in the investigation of the church bombing that killed 23 people, most of them Coptic Christians, Saturday in Alexandria. The interior ministry also published a sketch of a man it says blew himself up in front of the church.

Meanwhile, government officials sent a message urging tolerance among Egyptians and intolerance for terrorism. Parliament Speaker Ahmed Fathi Sarour says that Egyptians must not turn against each other, because that is what the terrorists are seeking.

He says that the goal of the terrorist is to create horror and fear and these feelings prompt people to become suspicious and stop associating with each other. He insists that if this is what happens we have given the terrorist what he wants, so people must instead upset the terrorists' plans.

The Egyptian government is asking Coptic Christians not to congregate in front of churches after midnight mass to avoid giving terrorists any possible targets. A shooter killed more than half a dozen Copts in front of a church after Christmas eve mass last year in the town of Nag Hammadi.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Head: Breach Won't Happen Again

update Julia Pierson tells a House panel investigating a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid