Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab (R) and Pope Tawadros II (L) of Alexandria at the ceremony for the recent reopening of the Hanging Church, in Old Cairo.CAIRO -- Ibrahim Mahlab's government is underscoring Egypt's Christian identity in a bid to relaunch Egypt's religious tourism. The message emerging from Tuesday night's inaguration cerimony , attended by Egyptian Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou and by the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, is the promotion of itineraries linked to the presence of the Holy Family in Egypt. The government and religious authorities agree: "We need peace and security in Egypt", both premier Mahlab and the Coptic patriarch Tawadros II said, while talking about the Coptic quarter of Cairo, "a symbol of the country's identity", Mahlab added, where next to churches you can find other places of worship for other monotheistic religions, such as the Jewish and the Muslim one. It's a place "that speaks by itself" underlined Mahlab "of dialogue, peace and security" , the essence of Egypt. A country where, according to tradition, "also Jesus found peace and safety".
Many ministers attended the inaguration with the prime minister: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri, the Minister of Culture Gaber Asfour, the Minister of International Cooperation, Naglaa El Ahwani, the minister of Finance Hany Kadry and the Minister of Health, Adel Al Edawy. A striking ministerial presence that underlines a political shift. It's the first time Egyptian authorities promote itineraries linked to Egypt's Christian roots and in particular to the Holy Family's flight into Egypt .
The Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II uttered words of hope for the country's future. "The voyage of the Holy Family in Egypt represents a blessing for the country - Tawadros II said - "Egypt is working to present itself to the world as a positive and peaceful country" and this itinerary represents " a very important project not only for the country but for the rest of the world". For Christians - he added - "it's normal to talk about the places in which the Holy Family lived", but what is extraordinary is for the government "to invite" people to discover them. "The call to discover the itinerary is addressed to all Egyptians not just to the Christian ones" underscored the minister, who has greatly invested in the project. "Thanks to this initiative, we are expecting to relaunch the economy of areas which have traditionally been excluded from traditional circuits and also hope to promote a more aware kind of tourism". Many religious authorities representing different countries also attended the inaguration, among them the Secretary of the Pontifical council of Culture, Mons Barthelemy Adoukonou. "The Church - he said - is proud of what Egypt is doing. The cooperation between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Egyptian state represents a good message for the world".