Obama vows to protect Copts, urges Egypt to respect all faiths

US President Barack Obama called Friday for the protection of Copts and other minorities as the Christian group celebrated its first post-revolution Christmas in Egypt.

"I want to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to work for the protection of Christian and other religious minorities around the world," he said in a statement on the occasion of Coptic Christmas.

He urged "Egypt and elsewhere" to respect all faiths, including the Coptic. 

"As events in Egypt and elsewhere have illustrated … the protection of people of all faiths, and the ability to worship as you choose are critical to a peaceful, inclusive and thriving society," said Obama.

"In this Christmas season, we join our Coptic brothers and sisters around the globe in prayers for peace."

The statement said Obama and his wife Michelle "wish Coptic Orthodox Christians in the United States and around the world a blessed and joyous Christmas."

Egypt's Christians are celebrating their first Christmas after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak amid tight security

The measures come a year after more than 20 people were killed in an apparent suicide bombing targeting a church in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. In 2010, meanwhile, six Copts were killed as they emerged from a Christmas eve mass in southern Egypt.

Christians, who make up 10 percent of Egypt's 85 million people, blame much of the violence on increasingly bold radical Islamists. A bloody crackdown by the country's military rulers on a Coptic march in October has also sparked outrage.

On late Friday and at church services broadcast on state television, Coptic Pope Shenouda III commended Islamist leaders, who attended in a bid to assuage Christian concerns.

Muslim and Christian activists conducted candle light vigils outside several churches under the slogan "We all celebrate together as Egyptians."

The Copts follow their own ancient calendar under which Christmas Day falls on 7 January.

Related Articles

Back to top button