Dozens of Copts protest Pope’s Christmas Eve invitation to Salafis

Dozens of Coptic youth staged a protest inside Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral on Friday against Pope Shenouda's invitation to Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood to attend the Christmas Eve Mass on 7 January, Al-Ahram state-run newspaper said on its website Friday.

Pope Shenouda sent invitations for all political factions to attend the Christmas Eve Mass including Salafi parties Asala, Nour and Fadila as well as the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, a church source said on Wednesday.

The source said that Shenouda insisted on inviting all Egyptians and political parties regardless of affiliation to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Coptic Christians, who form the largest Christian sect in Egypt at about 10 percent of the population, celebrate Christmas on 7 January each year.

Al-Ahram said the invitation was strongly opposed by some Christian political movements who objected to the invitation of Islamists.

Al-Ahram quoted Ramy Kamel, general coordinator of the Maspero Youth Union, as saying that the union is "against the invitation of these political parties, and any honorable, free Copt will not accept it."

"How can we applaud Salafis when they besieged the cathedral immediately before the incident at Imbaba Church?" said Kamel to Al-Ahram.

Clashes took place between Muslims and Christians last May in Cairo neighborhood of Imbaba after rumors were circulated that a Christian girl who converted to Islam was being held in a church. The clashes left at least 15 people dead, and the church was burned.

Kamel called for an open-ended sit on 5 January inside the cathedral to reject the Pope’s desire to receive Islamists in the church.

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