A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Nervous Coptic Christmas in the Morsi Era

Today is Eastern Christmas. The largest Christian church in the Middle East is the Coptic Church, and traditionally Egyptian heads of state, though Muslim, often attend Christmas Eve services at Saint Mark's Cathedral. As Husni Mubarak aged, his son Gamal and senior ministers attended, and last year most of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces were there. When Pope Tawadros II was installed, Prime Minister Qandil attended, With a new and controversial constitution in place, that many minorities feel reduces their rights and protections, there was speculation about whether President Morsi would attend.

Instead, he phoned Pope Tawadros to wish him a Merry Christmas. The highest-ranking figure from the government was apparently the President's Chief of Staff.

The Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood also sent greetings, but the presence was so reduced from previous years as to further increase minority jitters, especially since the Education Minister has announced that Baha'is can't enroll their children in public schools as the Constitution only recognizes Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

A number of media seem to have decided the future of the Copts is an appropriate subject for an Eastern Chrtistmas feature, so you can find articles here and here and here, though as I've said before, the Western Churches tend to forget the Eastern Churches exist except once or twice a year.

Pope Tawadros gave an interview with Al Jazeera English which is worth watching; his message seems to be that the Church will concentrate on its teaching and charitable work and avoid politics, at least in these uncertain times:
A brief excerpt from last night's Christmas service here:

And for those of you with a great deal of patience and nothing else to do today, the whole thing (no, I haven't watched it all):


d said...

What is the matter with Mursi? Is he deaf to the politics? Allergic to incense?

David Mack said...

What is the matter with Mursi? Politically deaf? Allergic to incense?