Different era. Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II (C-R) and also Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz (C-L) at the Cathedral that Abbasiya in Cairo, critical March. (AFP)

CAIRO - Egypt’s Christians room optimistic complying with the very first Coptic fixed in Saudi Arabia. Dozens of Coptic christians attended the mass at a tourist facility in Riyadh.

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The mass, Egypt’s christians said, mirrors the tremendous changes happening in Saudi Arabia.

“It even portends more change in that good country in the future,” stated Father Polis Halim, spokesman of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church. “Saudi Arabia is mirroring an admirable degree of yongin that offers us a many hope.”

The story began in might when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz went to Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo and met with Coptic Pope Tawadros II. The crown prince invite Tawadros come visit Saudi Arabia and check ~ above the condition of the Copts — mainly expat Egyptians — life there.

Bishop Ava Morkos, a senior Coptic official, took trip to Riyadh and also was received by the head that the pan-Islamic NGO Muslim people League Mohammed al-Eissa. ~ above December 2, Morkos stated the first Coptic mass in Saudi Arabia.

“This is a historical development,” Morkos told The Arab Weekly in a call interview from Riyadh. “Saudi Arabia is setting a wonderful example for tolerance.”

Having one Egyptian bishop say mass in Saudi Arabia would have been inconceivable not lengthy ago, before a range of social reforms were presented in the kingdom. Over the past year, women have actually been granted the best to drive, to visit football matches along with men and work side by side through male co-workers.

Cinemas are being constructed across the country, musical concerts room being organised and attended by every social classes. Arab and international artists room visiting Riyadh in fast succession.

This is also around the potential change of fortunes because that Christians in the center East, with the

richest nation in the region opening to one of the oldest spiritual communities in the center East.

The increase of Islamist extremism throughout the region has resulted in repeated attacks on the center East’s Christian communities. Numerous Egyptian Copts allude to the climb of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in 2012-13 as the start of the recent campaign versus them.

“Christians feared for their lives and fled the country,” Tawadros said Saudi Arabia’s Arab News. “When the country regained the stability, a most them went back to Egypt.”

Egypt’s Coptic ar makes up about 10% the Egypt’s population. The series of strikes targeting churches and also Christians by Islamist extremists has actually led plenty of Copts to say their means of life is threatened.

Egyptian chairman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has sought to create ties with Egypt’s Coptic community and was the very first sitting president to attend Coptic Christmas night celebrations in 2015 throughout which that urged Egyptians come look beyond religious differences. “It is necessary that the whole civilization watch us — the Egyptians,” the said. “You noticed that i am not using one more word than ‘Egyptians.’ us room the Egyptians.”

There are about 1.8 million believer in Saudi Arabia, the Coptic Church said. Most of those christians are mostly Roman Catholic expat Filipinos yet still the massive presided end by Morkos is a milestone.

“By mirroring tolerance to the Christians, Saudi Arabia and also Egypt have the right to inspire other countries in the region,” claimed Ishak Ibrahim, one Egyptian Christian researcher working with the Egyptian initiative for an individual Rights as part of its freedom of Religion and Belief Programme. “The conditions of believer are very bad in numerous of the countries of the region and this may change with the largest two countries in it acting as role models.”

During his meeting v Tawadros in March, Crown Prince Mohammed argued establishing one interfaith conversation initiative in between the region’s Muslims and also Christians.

Morkos debated that and other issues related to Christian presence in Saudi Arabia and also many speculated his visit to Riyadh would not be the critical initiative between the Coptic Church and the Saudi government.

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One the those developments, Halim said, would be the feasible construction that the very first church in Saudi Arabia.

“There room no church in Saudi Arabia,” Halim said, “but this is a situation that ns am sure will adjust and very soon with the country’s management showing a genuine will for change.”