Egypt’s Sisi opens mega-mosque and Middle East’s largest cathedral in New Capital

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Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi accompanied by Coptic Pope Tawadros II, during Christmas Eve Mass at the new "Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ," in the new administrative capital. (AP)
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Christian worshippers in the new Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ. (AFP)
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A picture taken on on January 3, 2019 shows a partial view of the interior of the newly-built al-Fattah al-Alim mosque in Egypt's new administrative capital, 45kms east of Cairo. (AFP)
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A picture taken on January 3, 2019, shows a general view of the newly-built al-Fattah al-Alim mosque in Egypt's new administrative capital, 45kms east of Cairo. (AFP)
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A member of Egyptian Army walks in the new Coptic Cathedral "The Nativity of Christ" before Sunday's Coptic Christmas Eve Mass in the New Administrative Capital (NAC) east of Cairo, Egypt January 3, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 07 January 2019
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Egypt’s Sisi opens mega-mosque and Middle East’s largest cathedral in New Capital

  • Saturday’s explosion on the eastern edge of Cairo that killed a policeman who was trying to defuse the device
  • Coptic Christians have been hit by a string of attacks

CAIRO: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi inaugurated Egypt's largest church and mosque in the New Administrative Capital on Sunday, the eve of Coptic Christmas, in a symbolic message of tolerance in the predominantly Muslim nation.
Copts, the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, were due hold a midnight mass in the Cathedral of the Nativity, billed by the government as the Middle East's largest church, a few hours after the inauguration.
Coptic Christians make up an estimated 10 percent of Egypt's nearly 100 million people and have long complained of discrimination under laws that favour Muslims.
They have also increasingly been targeted in recent years by militants including Daesh, which is waging an insurgency in the north of the remote Sinai Peninsula.
Foreign dignitaries and officials including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit flanked Sisi at the opening, state television showed.
Angham, a prominent local singer, sang for Muslim-Christian coexistence as a display of fireworks lit the skies over the two houses of worship.
"On this day we see you have fulfilled this promise and here we are witnessing a great opening on this grand occasion," the head of the Coptic church Pope Tawadros II said. He will preside over midnight mass later in the evening with Sisi in attendance.
US President Donald Trump also praised the opening of the church and the mosque.
"Excited to see our friends in Egypt opening the biggest Cathedral in the Middle East. President El-Sisi is moving his country to a more inclusive future," Trump tweeted on Sunday.
The Cathedral of the Nativity, adorned with Coptic icons, can accommodate more than 8,000 worshippers while the Al-Fattah Al-Aleem Mosque can hold nearly double the number. Both are located in the new administrative capital, a major development located some 45 km (28 miles) east of Cairo.
Contractors have been clearing debris from the perimeter of the cathedral in the last two weeks in preparation for its grand opening, a Reuters witness said.
The new Egyptian capital, announced in March 2015, is intended partly to reduce crowding in Cairo but will also be home to government ministries and an airport. The government is expecting to begin moving to the new premises later this year.


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