Australia's Coptic Orthodox community celebrates Christmas with services that also pay tribute to the lives lost in recent terror attacks.
Australia's Coptic Orthodox community has gathered to celebrate Christmas while also remembering the lives lost in recent terror attacks in Egypt.
Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7, instead of the December 25, following the Orthodox, or old, Christian calendar.
There are about 100,000 Copts living in Australia, mainly in New South Wales and Victoria.
2017 was another deadly year for violence against Coptic Christians with several bombings and suicide attacks on churches.
The latest saw 11 people killed after gunmen opened fire outside a Coptic church south of Cairo in Helwan City.
"At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Christ our Saviour," said the Coptic Diocese of Sydney’s John Nour.
"But we also have sadness and sorrow [when we see] the continuous attacks on the Copts of Egypt and the continuous persecution and suicide bombings of churches.”
Dozens of worshippers gathered at St Anthony's Coptic Church in Guildford on Saturday night to mark Christmas Eve with a mass celebrated by His Grace Bishop Daniel.
Mr Nour said he has relatives overseas who feel "uncomfortable" and "unrelaxed" about terror attacks, but the community remains united.
“We will continue to celebrate Christmas, we will continue to be united as a community as we will not be petrified of those terrorists.”
Mr Nour hopes 2018 will be “a better year” when it comes to deadly attacks but stresses the Egyptian government needs to do more than simply provide security outside churches.
“We hope that the government will crack down on those terrorists and be able to identify those terrorists.” Mr Nour said.
Overseas, Egypt’s Copts celebrated in the country’s new cathedral, The Nativity of Christ in the country's new administrative capital.
A Christmas Eve mass was held there attended by about 3,000 people, including President El Sisi.
The Cathedral cost US$45 billion to build and is located east of Cairo.