Was Sisi Trying to Distract the World by Building Largest Church in Region?

Published January 7th, 2019 - 02:01 GMT
Sisi taking part in the opening ceremony of the church along with the Coptic Pope Tawadros II. (AFP)
Sisi taking part in the opening ceremony of the church along with the Coptic Pope Tawadros II. (AFP)

Egypt President Abdel Fattah Sisi has been dominating debates on social media and the news in Egypt and the Middle East. First for his interview with “60 minute” show on CBS and then for participation in simultaneously opening the largest church and mosque in the Middle East.

On Christmas Eve Sisi took part in the opening ceremony of the church along with the Coptic Pope Tawadros II, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Marc Episcopate in the new administrative capital set to be completed in 2020.

While state media reported that inauguration of the church as a symbolic message of tolerance and coexistence among Egyptians, many believed it was a way to distract the world’s attention from what is actually happening on the ground.

Copts, the largest Christian minority in the Middle East who consists around 10% of Egyptian population, have been facing crisis and different forms of discrimination in their own country with almost zero attention from their own government and authorities, let alone the rise in number of attacks against Copts.

Read More on this: Rise in Number of Missing Coptic Women Amid Media Blackout in Egypt

The last attack was two days before Egypt's Christians celebrate their Christmas, when a policeman was killed trying to defuse a bomb outside a Coptic Christian church in Nasr City outside Cairo.

Despite all of this and the fact that Sisi’s oppressive government is intensifying crackdown on freedoms all the time, US President Donald Trump went to Twitter on Sunday to praise Sisi’s opening the church expressing excitement to see how the Egyptian president is driving his country to a “more inclusive future” with no regard to the facts mentioned in the ground.

Meanwhile on social media, opinion online has been divided.

Between Egyptians praising Sisi for building the church and others arguing about the high poverty rates, not all Egyptians were in awe of inaugurating the church.

Many also mocked the fact that Egyptians are suffering poverty in the same time when millions of dollars, if not more, are being spent to brag in front of the world about the biggest church and mosque.

Translation: “Weird. There are still poor people even though we have the biggest church and mosque?”

Some also thought opening the church came in a time to distract Egyptians from discussions on Sisi’s interview with the CBS “60 minute”, in which he was asked about his human rights record and cooperation with Israel.

This came along with news on the orders issued by government to prevent all Egyptian TV channels and media outlets from covering the CBS interview. Also, some reports confirmed the Egyptian authorities attempts to block the interview broadcast in Egypt.

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