Egypt on high alert for Christmas

In Egypt, Catholics and Protestants celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25, while Copts mark the occasion on Jan. 7. 
Updated 25 December 2018

Egypt on high alert for Christmas

  • In Egypt, Catholics and Protestants celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25
  • The Coptic Christmas is a national holiday in Egypt

CAIRO: Egyptian Christians marked Christmas this year with a mixture of joy and apprehension, as the Interior Ministry issued a high security alert and deployed forces in strategic areas and churches nationwide.

“It’s that time of year when our alertness and efforts significantly increase. I have continuous shifts until mid-January,” a police officer in Cairo told Arab News.

In Egypt, Catholics and Protestants celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25, while Copts mark the occasion on Jan. 7. 

A day ahead of the Christmas celebrations, many Christians in Egypt take time off to prepare for the festivities. 

Brig. Gen. Khaled Okasha, a member of the Supreme Council for Combating Terrorism, said there is very tight security in place to thwart potential terrorist acts.

Fady Atef, a Copt who works as a salesman in Cairo, told Arab News: “We’re ready for the celebrations without fear. We don’t fear terrorism. We celebrate Christmas and we use faith to overcome fear.”

He added: “I think all Christians will go to church without fear. We trust our security apparatus and we feel secure.”

But on social media, other Copts expressed fear and anger about the loss of loved ones in previous years. 

Some blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, some blamed foreign enemies, and others blamed the government for failing to provide adequate security.

“Fear and threat, this is how we feel when we approach such holy days,” said one Copt on social media.

Last month, terrorists ambushed a bus carrying Christian pilgrims on their way to a remote desert monastery in Minya governorate, killing seven and wounding 12.

In December 2017, two terrorists attacked the Mar Mina Church in the city of Helwan, killing nine people and injuring 10.

In December 2016, an attack on the St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Cairo killed 27 people.

The Coptic Christmas feast ends a 43-day fast that begins in November. During the fast, Copts abstain from eating any food that comes from animals.

The Coptic Christmas is a national holiday in Egypt. According to government statistics, Christians make up 10 percent of the total population of nearly 100 million.


Abu Dhabi bans travel in, out and within emirate to limit coronavirus spread

Updated 31 May 2020

Abu Dhabi bans travel in, out and within emirate to limit coronavirus spread

  • The restrictions come into force on Tuesday and last for a week
  • Traveling will not be allowed between the areas of Abu Dhabi city, Al-Ain and Al-Dhafrah

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi has banned travel into and out of the emirate and between its three regions from Tuesday.
The restrictions, announced by the Abu Dhabi Emergency and Crisis Committee, come into force on Tuesday and last for a week.
Both residents and nationals will not be allowed to travel between the areas of Abu Dhabi city, Al-Ain and Al-Dhafrah. 
The decision is meant to enhance the effectiveness of the “National Screening Program and reduce the spread of covid-19,” Abu Dhabi Media Office said.
Exemptions are available by a special private permit for employees of vital sectors, or chronic disease patients heading to hospitals, and the transportation of goods.