Coptic Christians in UAE hope for peace as Pope visits Egypt

Christians who call the UAE home say they are lucky to live safely, without fear of persecution.

Egyptian Coptic community in the UAE celebrate Christmas 2016 at St Anthony’s Orthodox Church. Irene García León for The National.
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DUBAI // Christians in the emirate say they hope there would be solutions for peace in the region as Pope Francis visited the Middle East this week.

On Wednesday, the pontiff met UAE officials including Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance.

He spoke of the importance of promoting tolerance worldwide, and addressing prejudice, extremism and violence.

Yesterday, Pope Francis visited Egypt and met president Abdel Fattah El Sisi in Cairo.

Marlene Kamal, an Egyptian resident of Dubai, said the pope’s visit to Cairo was a message of solidarity. “It is very symbolic to have a figure such as the pope go to Cairo, especially at this time,” she said.

“It has been a horrific month for us and a horrific period of history. He has a lot of influence in world politics and religion, so to have him meet the religious and political leaders in Cairo shows a message of support.”

This month, two militants attacks killed 45 Copts in Tanta and Alexandria in Egypt on Palm Sunday, a significant day in the Christian calendar.

ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

A few days after the attacks, extremists raided security forces at a checkpoint near the ancient Saint Catherine Monastery in South Sinai, causing one death and four injuries.

Christians make up about 10 per cent of Egypt’s population. Most of them are Coptic Orthodox.

“We are very lucky in the UAE to live a safe life, unlike our brothers and sisters in Egypt,” said Marian Samaan, an Egyptian resident of the UAE for 12 years. “To have such important visits like this, I hope that will at least give those living there hope, that things are being done to help bring peace to our world at this terrible time.”