Egyptian authorities have beefed up security as the country’s minority Coptic Christians prepare their celebrations for the Orthodox Christmas. Around 3,000 people, including President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, were expected to attend the Mass.
Pope Tawadros II was to lead Christmas Mass later in the day in the Nativity of Christ, the first time in living memory that the event is not held in the seat of the orthodox church in St. Mark’s Cathedral in central Cairo.
Copts constitute an overwhelming majority of Christians in the Muslim-dominated Egypt. In a show of solidarity, Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, paid a visit to the North African country last year, in what was believed to be a government-sponsored move to allay concerns about the security of the minority group.