Last evening, as Pope Tawadros II presided over Midnight Mass at St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, Copts were thrilled to find President Sisi drop in, in person, to wish them a happy Christmas. The prayers were interrupted for the few minutes during which he rushed through the aisle up to Pope Tawadros and warmly greeted him. He took the microphone and warmly wished the Copts and the Pope a happy Christmas with many good returns. His joyful, beaming face brought on a torrent of applause from the congregation who kept on cheering: “We love you, Sisi” and “One hand”. He replied that he wished to interrupt the prayers no further, greeted a very moved Pope who thanked him warmly, and rushed out again amid resounding applause.
This is the first time ever a head of State in Egypt visits the Cathedral to greet the Copts; the tradition was that a top-ranking official would represent the State head. President Sisi’s visit left a widely appreciated feeling of comfort and joy.