Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has become the first holder of his office to ever attend a Christmas mass.
El-Sisi was present at the Christmas mass at Cairo’s Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, where he visited with Coptic Pope Tawadros II and gave a brief speech, Al-Ahram reported.
Unlike Christians in the West, Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7 due to their use of the older Julian calendar.
Saint Mark’s Cathedral, which serves as the seat of the Coptic papacy and the largest church in the Middle East, was the site of an unprecedented Islamic mob attack in April 2013 under then-president Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood member.
El-Sisi has embarked on an ambitious plan for a “revolution” in Islam, in order to reform the faith that he says has made the Muslim world a source of “destruction” that is “making enemies of the whole world.”
“So 1.6 billion people [in the Muslim world)] will kill the entire world of 7 billion? That’s impossible… We need a religious revolution,” El-Sisi said during a Jan. 1 speech at Al-Azhar University, The Associated Press reported.
El-Sisi’s vision includes purging Islam of extremist intolerance and violence, elements that terror groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State use as recruitment tools.