Coptic Christians in Egypt celebrated Christmas on Wednesday in Cairo's St. Mark Cathedral with Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Church, leading mass.
Egypt has seen a relatively violent year with numerous militant attacks on its soil, in particular in the Sinai peninsula where Egyptian militants loyal to Islamic State are based.A Muslim cleric, Sheikh Mazhar Shaheen, attended mass in a show of solidarity and to ease tensions between Muslims and Christians in the country.
"In the name of Allah, the merciful, I'm here to greet my Christian brothers and stress that the Egyptian people have always been a tolerant and loving people. We also always like to use these moments to insist that Egypt is one country," he said.
Salah Meadawy, a member of the Masryeen Ahrar Political Party, also attended.
"We are all here in our country and just like late Pope Shenouda, may he rest in peace, said, Egypt is not a country we live in, but a country that lives in us, and really all of us love Egypt, our country, whether Muslims or Christians," he said.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who attended the mass, greeted Coptic Christians, saying, "I send you warm wishes on your holiday."