Pope Shenouda III attends the Coptic Christmas eve mass in Cairo
Pope Shenouda III attends the Coptic Christmas Eve mass in Cairo (Reuters) Reuters

Egypt's Muslim Brotherood has committed itself to protect local Christians from attacks as they prepare for the Coptic Christmas on 7 January.

The Brotherhood has urged the military regime to secure churches across the country in order to avoid a repeat of seasonal attacks on the buildings and their congregations.

Last year at least 21 people were killed in a bomb attack outside the All Saints Church in Alexandria. Reports suggested that the interior ministry of that time was responsible for the carnage.

"We have decided to form Muslim Brotherhood committees to protect the churches so that the hands of sin do not ruin the festivities like they did several times under the old regime," the group said in a statement quoted by Bikya Masr website.

"We call on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the police to protect the churches in the same way they protected polling stations during the elections."

Coptic Christians account for 10 percent of Egypt's population and have often been targeted by extremist groups. In October, 27 people were killed by the military as they marched to the state television building in Cairo in a protest against a church attack in Aswan.

Troops opened fire on the protesters and ran them over with tanks in what has become known as the Maspero Massacre.

In January 2010, six Copts were shot dead as they emerged from a Coptic Christmas Eve mass in the southern Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi.

The Muslim Brotherhood added that a delegation headed by leading group member ‎Mahmoud Ezzat would attend Christmas mass.‎