Sisi at Christmas mass: Diversity in traditions are part of ‘God’s norms of life’

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Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Sisi on Jan. 6 apologized for the torching of Christian churches during the Morsi regime and vowed “the churches will be fully restored this year.”

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi greets Christians during Egypt's Coptic Christmas eve mass led by Pope Tawadros II in Cairo. /Reuters
Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Sisi greets Christians during Egypt’s Coptic Christmas eve mass led by Pope Tawadros II in Cairo. /Reuters

Sisi made the remarks as he, for the second consecutive year, attended the Coptic Christmas mass at Saint Mark’s Orthodox Cathedral.

Last year, Sisi became the first Egyptian president to attend the mass in Cairo’s Abbasiya district.

“We do not want anything to harm us [Egyptians] whether our economic or political circumstances,” Sisi said, adding that diversity in religions, traditions and languages are part of “God’s norms of life.”

Footage of Sisi’s appearance with Coptic Pope Tawadros II was broadcast on Egyptian state television.

Coptic Orthodox Christians, who account for some 90 percent of Egypt’s Christians, break their 43-day fast and celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7. The difference from Western celebrations results from the use of different calendars.

A large number of Christians churches were destroyed during clashes between supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and security forces following the dispersal of two pro-Morsi camps in August 2013.