The last time I mentioned Egypt, archeologists had uncovered the hidden tomb of an Egyptian royal priest that had been untouched for around 4,400 years.

Since then, there have been further fascinating developments related to the land of the Nile. To start with, Cairo officials tried to prevent the airing of a CBS interview in which Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi spoke of his country’s close co-operation with Israel in fighting ISIS militants.

The interview on the 60 Minutes news programme was due to air on Sunday evening after CBS said it had refused Egyptian government demands to refrain from broadcasting it. In an excerpt provided by CBS, Mr Sisi is quoted as having said: “That is correct . . . we have a wide range of co-operation with the Israelis,” in response to a question asking him if co-operation with Israel was now the closest ever between the two countries.

Egypt has had a peace treaty with Israel since 1978 and the two countries have diplomatic relations, but Egyptian public opinion still regards the Jewish state as an enemy and occupier of Arab lands. Mr Sisi’s unprecedented admission could hand his critics further ammunition to attack him.

News of co-operation with Israel against Isis militants in the Sinai has been widely circulated in the past year. A New York Times story in February 2018 cited US officials saying Israel had conducted a covert air campaign including some 100 air strikes against Isis militants in the North Sinai with Cairo’s permission. Egypt denied the story at the time.

In other news, Egypt will soon be the new site of the biggest cathedral in the Middle East.

Egypt will inaugurate the biggest cathedral in the Middle East in coincidence with the Coptic Christmas Eve, which will be led by Pope Tawadros in the new church in the New Administrative capital.

The new church’s capacity accommodates 8 thousand people, said Samuel Matias previously, adding that the cathedral will provide big buses to transport participants in the mass from Abbasiya to the New Administrative Capital, starting from 1 p.m.

The New Administrative Capital has the largest mosque and church in Egypt, according to Chairman of the Armed Forces Engineering Authority Kamel al-Wazir. Wazir also explained that the cathedral covers a total of 63,000 square meters with a hosting capacity of 8,200 persons.

Finally, and tragically, several tourists were killed when their bus was bombed near the famous Giza Plateau.

The timing of last week’s bombing could not have been worse for the Egyptian government.

Friday’s attack on a tour bus, which killed three Vietnamese tourists and their Egyptian guide near the renowned Giza Pyramids, came just as the country’s battered tourism industry was showing signs of recovery.

Adding insult to injury, the attack came at the height of the holiday season, when the number of foreign visitors normally peaks.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, in which a crude roadside bomb was used, but it bore the hallmarks of extremists.

Hopefully, there will be fewer bombings and more Masses in Egypt this year.

 
 
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