Pope of Egypt Coptic Christian church passes away

Cairo: The patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, has died at the age of 88. The aging pope, who led Egypt`s Christian minority for 40 years, was battling liver and lung problems for several years, state news agency MENA said.

For Coptic Christians, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world who make up 10 per cent of of Egypt`s 80 million population, the pope was a religious thinker and a charismatic leader. He was seen as the guardian of community amid tension with the majority Muslim population.

Since the ouster of unpopular Hosni Mubarak more than a year back, Christians grew increasingly worried over the domination of Muslim conservatives, particularly in the parliamentary elections.

Born Nazeer Gayed into a devout Christian family on 3 August 1923 in Asyut, Upper Egypt, Pope Shenouda became a monk in 1954. He was enthroned as Pope of Alexandria after Pope Cyril died in 1971, BBC reported.