CAIRO – Egypt's pope has urged his congregants to "not be afraid" in his Mass to mark Coptic Christmas, trying to reassure a community feeling anxious about the rise of Islamists to power here.
Pope Tawadros II led his first Christmas Midnight Mass this year. He was elected in November to replace longtime Pope Shenouda III, who died in March after 40 years as leader of the ancient church.
Coptic Christians, who represent about 10 percent of Egypt's 85 million people, are celebrating their first Christmas on Monday under an Islamist president. Christians have long complained of discrimination by the state and are feeling even more uneasy after the passage of a new constitution that opens the door for adoption of more strict Islamic law in Egypt.