3 Killed as Throngs Mourn Egypt's Coptic Pope

Pope Shenouda III's memorial service turns tragic
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2012 9:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – Tens of thousands of mourners turned out for Pope Shenouda III's memorial service, which turned tragic when three were crushed to death in the crowd. The leader of Egypt's Coptic Christians was seated on the throne of St. Mark, and dozens of devotees were injured as they crowded into Cairo's Abbasiya cathedral to see his embalmed corpse. Meanwhile, armored tanks lurked outside in case of an attack by militant Muslims, the Daily Mail reports.

The 88-year-old Orthodox Church leader died Saturday, and the outpouring of grief may reflect the Christian minority's uncertainty as Islamists in Egypt have come to power, the AP notes. Shenouda often met with Muslim leaders and called for harmony between Egypt's Muslims and its 10 million Christians. "He has been our protector since the day I was born," said one tearful follower. It could be months before a successor is determined.

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