Sisi pledges to restore burned churches within a year
Pope Tawadros II, the 118th Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark Cathedral, leads Egypt's Coptic Christmas eve mass in Cairo, Egypt, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi pledged Wednesday to restore all churches that were burned during 2013 protests against the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi, apologizing for the delay of the restoration.

“We have delayed in restoring and forming what have been burned…God’s willing, everything will be done within one year,” Sisi addressed Copts in St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral is located in Cairo-based Abbassia District during celebration of Christmas mass Wednesday evening.

Although the Presidential office had previously announced that President Sisi will send a special representative, Sisi attended the mass, offering his greetings and wishes to all Egyptian Copts.

Last year, Sisi paid a surprise visit to the Cathedral, congratulating the Copts on their celebrations; Sisi’s visit was the first by a head of state to a Coptic Christmas mass since President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The Coptic calendar observes Christmas on Jan. 7. The Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark Tawadros II leads the Christmas mass.

Following the ouster of Morsi in July 2013 and the dispersal of Rabaa and Nahda squares in Cairo and Giza; hundreds of people nationwide, particularity in Upper Egypt’s Minya, staged protests during which many Coptic Churches were burned. According to Human Rights Watch report in August 21, 2013, a total of 37 churches were damaged and burned.

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