Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - A delegation of the Sunni University of al Azhar, led by the Grand Imam Ahmed al Tayyb, also took part together with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi at the "official inauguration" of the new Coptic Cathedral and Mosque in the urban area 45 km from Cairo, destined to become the new administrative capital of Egypt. The official inauguration ceremonies, which took place on Sunday 6 January, on the eve of Coptic Christmas, were desired by the Egyptian political leadership as a moment of clear symbolic value to relaunch the image of a country founded on the coexistence among different communities and religious identities, united in common rejection of terrorism and sectarianism that threaten its political and social stability. The inauguration of the Great Mosque was also attended by the Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Arab League leader Ahmed Aboul Gheit, while Egyptian singer Angham performed songs praising the coexistence between Muslims and Christians.
In statements released to the Egyptian media on that particular day, Sheikh al Tayyib emphasized among other things that most of the Coptic churches were built after Islam had already spread in Egypt, and that historical data is enough to deny the erroneous and misleading fatwa released by Islamic exponents who condemn and insist on preventing the construction of churches in the lands inhabited by Muslims. The Egyptian media also stressed the fact that, in the ceremonies carried out for the inauguration of the Great Mosque, the first to intervene was the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, Tawadros II. In the evening, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi also spoke at the Coptic Christmas vigil, celebrated in the new cathedral dedicated to the Nativity of Jesus. Al Sisi, in his speech, reported that the government has planned the construction of 14 new urban centers where both churches and mosques will be built together, and confessed that he will never forget the words "better to have a Homeland without churches than to have churches without a Homeland", said Pope Tawadros in 2013, after churches and Christian schools in Egypt had been devastated by the attacks of Islamist groups. "This is a historic and important moment – said al Sisi inside the cathedral - but we still have to protect the tree of love we planted here together today because seditions never end". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 7/1/2019)