Coptic Christians in Egypt fear that their new cathedral, which may be considered as the biggest church in the Middle East, could become a big target for the Islamic State and other Muslim extremists.
Egyptian leaders are set to soon dedicate the Nativity of Christ cathedral, which is located at the country's new administrative capital that is being built 28 miles east of Cairo. The new house or worship has a capacity of 8,200 worshippers, USA Today detailed.
However, Egypt's Coptic Christians fear that the Nativity of Christ cathedral may become vulnerable to ISIS attacks, considering that their community has suffered more than 100 deaths in a string of attacks made on believers last year. The latest incident was a deadly shooting at a church in Cairo on Dec. 29, which claimed the lives of eight Copts.
Coptic Pope Tawadros II's spokesperson, Poules Halim, said the new cathedral is a sign of how Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi reaffirms the role of Coptic Orthodox Christians in the nation. Still, Christian Maspero Youth Foundation leader Ramy Kamil admitted that their community was anxious about the possible bombings or other attacks that may target believers.
Local salesman Sayed Riad expressed fear that ISIS could once again target Copts during their Christmas celebration on Jan. 7. Although they still have no knowledge of what could happen, he said the new cathedral could be a target.
The dedication mass for the Nativity of Christ cathedral is set to be held on Jan. 6, the Christmas Eve for Coptic Christians. President el-Sisi, the religious endowments' representatives, Sunni Muslim leaders, and around 3,000 people are expected to attend the gathering, The National reported.
Despite the fears over what ISIS could do, local cosmetics manufacturer and executive church committee member Maged George said the Coptic Christian community will not be shaken by those who target believers with violent attacks. He vowed to attend mass at Egypt's new cathedral and also to send his kids there during the Christmas feast.