Religious sects and Muslim institutions in Egypt look forward to Pope Francis’ visit on Friday after a spate of deadly attacks against Christians.
Security is a primary concern less than three weeks after 45 people were killed in attacks on Coptic Christian churches in Alexandria and Tanta, claimed by Islamic State, on Palm Sunday.
But Francis has insisted on using an ordinary car during his 27 hours in Cairo, continuing his practice of shunning armoured limousines in order to be closer to people.
“No, he would not cancel because the first thing that occurred after Tanta was that he prayed for Egypt. After the Sunday mass he starts a prayer called Angelus, where he prays for a cause,” said Catholic priest Father Boutros Daniel.
That day he prayed for Egypt. At the same time to comfort the world he tweeted that he would still visit Egypt and that he does not fear anything.”
Francis will meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, the world’s most influential centre of Sunni Islamic theology and learning; and Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who barely escaped the Alexandria bombing.
A main reason for the trip is to try to strengthen relations with the 1,000-year-old Azhar centre that were cut by the Muslim side in 2011 over what it said were repeated insults of Islam by Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict.
“When the largest religious leadership of the Christian world, speaking on behalf of a one billion and half people while Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh, Ahmed Al Tayyeb is speaking on behalf of one billion and 300 million people, these two large leaderships will deliver a message from Egypt to billions for cooperation between all those who follow and lead Abrahamic religions to radiate the culture of peace. This will be the biggest method to fight terrorism and violence,” said Azhar professor Ibrahim Salah Hodhod.
The Pope is expected to visit Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral to pray for the 28 people killed in a Christmas season blast last year and lay flowers in their memory.
Source: Channels Tv