A delegation from the Sunni University of al Azhar, led by the Grand Imam Ahmed al Tayyb, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi attended the official inauguration of the new Coptic Cathedral and a new Mosque in an urban area 45 km from Cairo, destined to become the new administrative capital of Egypt.
The official inauguration ceremonies, which took place on Sunday 6 January, on the eve of the Coptic Christmas, were welcomed by the Egyptian political leadership as a moment of clear symbolic value to relaunch the image of a country founded on the coexistence among different communities and religious identities, united in common rejection of terrorism and sectarianism that threaten its political and social stability.
The inauguration of the Great Mosque was attended by Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Arab League leader Ahmed Aboul Gheit. Egyptian singer Angham performed songs praising the coexistence between Muslims and Christians.
In statements released to the Egyptian media on the day, Sheikh al Tayyib emphasized among other things that most of the Coptic churches were built after Islam had already spread in Egypt, and that historic fact is enough to deny the erroneous and misleading fatwa released by Islamic exponents who condemn and insist on preventing the construction of churches in Egypt.
In the evening, President al Sisi also spoke at the Coptic Christmas vigil, celebrated in the new Cathedral, dedicated to the Nativity of Jesus. In his speech, the president announced that the government has planned the construction of 14 new urban centers where both churches and mosques will be built together. He said he would never forget the words of Pope Tawadros in 2013, after Islamist groups had devastated Christians Christians schools and churches: "better to have a Homeland without churches than to have churches without a Homeland"... "This is a historic and important moment" - President al Sisi said inside the cathedral, "but we still have to protect the tree of love we planted here together today because seditions never end."
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