Egyptian Christians celebrated Christmas Mass across the mainly Muslim nation on Monday night amid tight security.
There were fears that Islamic militants loyal to ousted President Mohamed Mursi would target them claiming they played a large role in the protests which lead up to his removal.
But worshippers are resting their hopes for the future in the adoption of Egypt’s new constitution which criminalises discrimination.
“ We thank God on this day which made all of us united, the state has made this day an official holiday for all Egyptians, Christmas comes this year at the beginning of a new phase in the history of our beloved Egypt, in the implementation of the constitution,” said Archpriest: Saleeb Matta Sawiris.
However nothing was left to chance with metal detectors placed at church entrances after a wave of attacks blamed on Islamists which have left dozens of churches destroyed.
Euronews correspondent Mohammed Shaikhibrahim spoke after the service held at Mary Gerges church in central Cairo:
“Against a background of security concerns and complex political conditions the Copts in Egypt have celebrated their annual Christmas, hoping in their prayers to see stability and peace return to a country weighed down by three years of political turmoil.”