Coptic Christians in Egypt choose new leader

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CAIRO — A bishop from the Nile Delta was chosen to lead the Coptic Orthodox Church on Sunday in a ceremony resonant with tradition but marked by anxiety over heightening tensions between Christians and Muslims across Egypt.

Bishop Tawadros became the church’s 118th pope after his name was selected from three finalists at a Mass in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo. He succeeds Pope Shenouda III, who died in March after four decades as patriarch of the largest Christian community in the Middle East. Copts comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s population.

Tawadros inherits a church uneasy over simmering sectarianism and the rise of hard-line Islamists. Many wonder if he will choose to be a vibrant voice for a Christian community that has endured recent church burnings, deadly attacks and fears that Copts will be further isolated by the government of President Mohamed Morsi.

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