Grand Imam of Azhar Ahmed el-Tayyib shakes hands with Pope Tawadros outside the cathedral after Easter celebrations on April 8, 2018 - Photo by Mahmoud Fakhry/Egypt Today
CAIRO – 8 April 2018: Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patriarch of St. Mark Diocese received Sunday Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayyib, who extended his Easter greetings and spoke about religious unity.
Pope Tawadros II stands next to church's choir who carry letters of the word "Egypt" outside the cathedral after Easter celebrations on April 8, 2018 - Photo by Mahmoud Fakhry/Egypt Today
Pope Tawadros II distributes sweets among revelers and bystanders outside the Cathedral on April 8, 2018, after Easter celebrations - Photo by Mahmoud Fakhry/Egypt Today
In his speech at the papal headquarters of the Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo, Azhar Imam said “we are all Egyptians; we share the same origins and message, and face the same challenge.”
“The common message is the message of peace,” he said, adding that the challenge that Egyptians face is the rise of calls for atheism and values that increases enmity of religions. “These calls made their way to our country and we have an exceptional duty to stand up for them.”
A live-stream for the Pope's meetings on the sidelines of Easter celebrations
Pope Tawadros welcomed top Islamic clerics on Sunday, including Awqaf Minister (Endowment) Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, and Grand Mufti Shawki Allam. He also met with the Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal.
The pope led on Saturday night the Easter mass at the Cathedral. In his prayer, the pope prayed for the Egyptian president, hoping the latter would continue to develop Egypt.
Pope Tawadros II leads the Easter Mass at the St. Marks cathedral in Abbasiya on April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today
Ahead of Easter celebrations, security measures were beefed around churches and the Cathedral, to secure the worshippers and revelers. A team of the Church's scouts were in charge of inspecting all those entering the Cathedral.
A host of ministers and top officials attended the mass, including representatives of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
Also, the ambassadors of Australia, Sweden, Hungary, Canada and Palestine were present as well as the US charge d' affairs.
Accompanied by a number of bishops, priests and deacons, the pope said "We remember all the martyrs of Tanta and Alexandria attacks.” He added, "We pray for Egypt and all Egyptians to be safe and sound.”
In 2017, terrorist attacks hit two Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday, leaving at least 45 killed and 126 injured among worshippers at St. George’s Church in Tanta city, north of Egypt, and Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria.