Pope calls off ordination anniversary in solidarity with Iraqi Christians, sources say

Head of the Egyptian Coptic Church Pope Shenouda III leader will cancel his 39th ordination anniversary celebration in a move to demonstrate solidarity with the Baghdad church afflicted by terrorist attacks two weeks ago, sources said.

On 1 November, Al-Qaeda’s offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq, attacked the Our Lady of Salvation Cathedral, leaving 58 dead and an estimated 100 injured.

Following the incident, the group issued a 48-hour deadline to the Egyptian Coptic Church to release female Muslim converts allegedly held captive in monasteries.

Al-Qaeda's violence and threats have raised fears in Coptic circles.

Egyptian Christian leaders, in the weeks following the Baghdad incident, have vowed to unite Egypt Muslim and Christian communities in the face of distress.

Minister of Religious Endowments Hamdy Zaqzouq and Ali Gomaa, Egyptian Grand Mufti, have publicly defended Egypt's Copts.

"There’s no sectarian strife among Christians and Muslims in Egypt as claimed," Zaqzouq recently said.

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