Egypt Copts hold Christmas mass under tight security

Egyptians gather during the funeral of the victims of the attack on the Saint Mina Coptic church, on December 29, 2017, at a church south of the capital Cairo. (AFP)
Updated 06 January 2018
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Egypt Copts hold Christmas mass under tight security

CAIRO: Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Christians held a Christmas Eve mass on Saturday at a massive new cathedral east of Cairo amid tight security after a year of deadly militant attacks on the community.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi gave a short speech before the liturgy, which was led by Pope Tawadros II, wishing the Christians a merry Christmas and telling them that the country would prevail over the militants.
“You are our family, you are from us, we are one and no one will divide us,” he said to ululations and chants from some of the congregants and visitors.
Tens of thousands of soldiers and police have been deployed across Egypt to protect minority Christians and their churches. Police had set up barricades outside the cathedral in a new administrative capital Egypt is building east of Cairo.
The cathedral, Sissi said, was a “message to the world, a message of peace and a message of love.”
Police had tightened security around the country’s churches ahead of services following a spate of attacks that began in 2016.
More than 100 Christians have been killed in the violence, including a shooting at a church south of Cairo just last week claimed by the Deash group.
Since the military ousted president Muhammad Mursi in 2013, security forces have sought to quell attacks led by the Egypt branch of Daesh, which has increasingly targeted Christians.
While the militants have also taken aim at other civilians, including more than 300 Muslim worshippers massacred at a mosque last November, they have focused on the ancient Coptic community.
In December 2016, a Daesh suicide bomber killed almost 30 worshippers at a church in Cairo located in the Saint Mark’s Cathedral complex, the seat of the Coptic papacy.
In the Sinai Peninsula, where Daesh is based, hundreds of Christians were forced to flee in January and December after a wave of assassinations.
Daesh suicide bombers killed more than 40 people in twin church bombings in April and shot dead almost 30 Christians a month later as they headed to a monastery.
The year ended with an Daesh militants killing nine people in an attack on a church in a south Cairo suburb.
Copts, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 93 million people, have long complained of discrimination and intermittent sectarian attacks.
The overwhelming majority of Egypt’s Christians are members of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7.
The Christmas Mass was held at an unfinished cathedral in Egypt’s new Administrative Capital, a multi-billion dollar, under-construction project east of Cairo.
 


Palestinian jailed for life for murder of Israeli

Updated 23 September 2019

Palestinian jailed for life for murder of Israeli

  • Fayiz Hamed was found guilty of voluntary homicide and attempted murders
  • The four Israelis were in a car when they came under fire at a crossroads near the settlement of Shvut Rachel in 2015

JERUSALEM: An Israeli military court Monday sentenced a Palestinian to life imprisonment for a 2015 shooting in the occupied West Bank that killed an Israeli and wounded three others, the army said.
Fayiz Hamed was found guilty of voluntary homicide and attempted murders.
The four Israelis were in a car when they came under fire at a crossroads near the settlement of Shvut Rachel on June 29, 2015, the army said in a statement.
The military accused the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, of carrying out the gun attack.
Hamas praised the attack without claiming responsibility.