CAIRO: Coptic Orthodox Bishop Sergious Sergious, the deputy of the Saint Mark Cathedral, said the church will only send official invitations for the Jan. 7 Coptic Christmas celebration to President Hosni Mubarak, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Fathy Soror.
Sergious told Daily News Egypt that all Egyptians are welcome to attend the celebration, but that the church will not officially invite any other public figures or opposition party leaders.
“Public figures who wish to attend [the Christmas celebration must] come to the church to get their invitations,” Sergious stated.
Sergious denied rumors that an official invitation was extended to former Chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradie, adding that “if ElBaradie wants to attend the celebration, he has to come to get his invitation like any ordinary public figure.”
Arguments regarding whether or not ElBaradie should be invited to attend the Christmas celebration have been stirring within the Coptic community ever since he expressed holiday well wishes to Copts via twitter.
“Merry Christmas to my fellow Egyptian Christians everywhere with the hope of a brighter future for our Motherland,” ElBaradie’s twitter post read.
After the twitter post, a group of Coptic youths launched a Facebook group requesting that the Coptic Church officially invite ElBaradie to the celebrations.
“ElBaradie is a source of pride [for] all Egyptians,” said Magdy Yaacob, one of the Facebook group’s members.
“[Even though] the church refused to invite ElBaradie, [the] Coptic youth [welcome] him and are giving him an open invitation [to attend],” said Maged Mansour, another member of the Facebook group. “The church’s doors are open for everyone and [are] not limited to certain people.”
Orthodox Church Lawyer Ramsis El-Naggar told Daily News Egypt that the church was supposed to invite ElBaradie to attend the celebrations as a public and international figure, but the controversy over his political role made the church opt not to invite him in order to stress that the church is a religious entity that is not involved in politics.
“The invitation [ElBaradie received from the] Coptic youth through Facebook is due to the political support ElBaradie enjoys among [them],” El-Naggar added.
“ElBaradie is a public figure who does not need an invitation to attend [the Christmas ceremony],” Naguib Gobrael, the head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization, told Daily News Egypt.