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Egypt’s Coptic Pope Prays For Palestinians, Bosnia And Somalia

January 7, 1994

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ The head of Egypt’s Coptic Christian Church prayed Friday for an independent Palestinian state and peace in Bosnia, Somalia and Afghanistan.

″We pray for the Palestinians so that God will help them in creating a sovereign state to include all of them,″ Pope Shenouda III said in a speech to thousands of Copts celebrating their Christmas.

The Mass was carried live on Egypt’s government-owned television and attended by representatives of President Hosni Mubarak, the Cabinet, political parties and leading Muslim scholars.

At a time when Egypt is plagued by Islamic extremist violence, the ceremony was an attempt to reflect unity among members of Egypt’s two main religions, Islam and Christianity.

Copts, who comprise more than 10 percent of Egypt’s 58 million people, have been targeted during the extremists’ two-year campaign to overthrow the country’s secular government. Nine Copts were killed last year by Muslim extremists, according to human rights groups.

The Jan. 7 Coptic Christmas is marked by a pre-dawn feast that ends a 43- day meatless fast.

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