President of Egypt has vowed to build the largest church in Egypt. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that he has allocated a special fund of 100,000 Egyptian pounds for this project. He said that at the same time he will also build a large mosque.
President al-Sisi announced this project during a Christmas liturgy held at Cairo’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, celebrated by Patriarch Tawadros II. At this occasion, he also expressed his determined resolution to rebuild the churches which were damaged during the 2013 riots.
In recent times, President al-Sisi administered the rebuilding of Boutrossiya chapel in the Egyptian Capital. This chapel was damaged in December when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the church, killing 27 people.
Patriarch Tawadros II called the attack “not just a disaster for the church but a disaster for the whole nation.” A state funeral was held for those killed in this explosion. President al-Sisi himself attended this funeral.
In 2016, President al-Sisi extended praises towards Egyptian Christians for exhibiting “wisdom and a spirit of patriotism.” He also praised them for their unity in the face of those who “try to exploit religion as a means of fomenting division and spreading extremist ideas.”
In line with United States Commission for International Religious Freedom report: “President al-Sisi was the first head of state to attend a Coptic Christmas Eve mass in January 2015. He did so again in January 2016, publicly apologizing that authorities had not yet finished rebuilding churches destroyed in August 2013 and pledging to complete the process within a year.
Following the unprecedented scale of violence against Copts that summer, the Egyptian government found that 29 people died in sectarian-related killings, 52 churches were completely destroyed, another 12 damaged, and numerous Christian-owned properties were destroyed. At the end of the reporting period, at least half of the destroyed churches had been rebuilt and the other half were still being constructed or repaired.
In February 2015, President al-Sisi offered condolences in person to Coptic Pope Tawadros after ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) killed 20 Copts and one Ghanaian in Libya. In October, Egyptian authorities started building a new church, as ordered by President al-Sisi, to honor the slain Copts.”
The report further said: Over the past year, the number and severity of violent incidents targeting Copts and their property decreased significantly when compared to previous years; however, sporadic violence continued, particularly in Upper Egypt. For example, in June 2015, at the time of the two-year anniversary of the overthrow of
former president Morsi, a number of Christian homes and properties were attacked, and in July, a mob firebombed a church in Alexandria and authorities reportedly responded slowly.
In March, local police failed to prevent a mob attack on a Coptic church in the al-Our village, the hometown of 13 of the 20 Copts killed in Libya. In some parts of the country, Egyptian security services increased protection of churches during significant religious holidays, which lessened the level of fear and insecurity among members of the Coptic community.”