EGYPTIAN MONASTERY THREATENED BY CITY COUNCIL DEMOLITION EDICT

March 21, 2006

PRESS RELEASE U.S. Copts Association

Washington, D.C. (3/20/06)—U.S. Copts Association calls on the Egyptian government to halt an official city edict which would demolish a Coptic Orthodox monastery’s recently built guesthouse. The decree, issued Monday, March 20, 2006, allows the monks of Dare Saleeb monastery in the Egyptian city of Millawi only five days to file an appeal before bulldozers demolish the structure.
Dare Saleeb (Monastery of the Cross) is located in the al Hoor region of the city of Millawi. A structure of noted historical value, the Coptic Orthodox monastery houses not only one of Egypt’s largest cross altar paintings but the bodies of deceased luminaries such as Saint Abu Fana and scientist and writer Father Mensi Yohanna. Monks have responded to the needs of religious pilgrims, tourists, and other visitors seeking spiritual insight by constructing a guesthouse on the monastery’s property.
According to monks within the monastery, General Sayyid ‘Othman Ismaeel—president of the city maglis or governing council—on Monday issued a notice of demolition to Bishop Dimetrios. The notice allowed the monastic community only five days to appeal against the demolition of the guesthouse, which city officials allege was constructed without proper permits.
Members of the local Coptic community have reacted to the edict by organizing a massive sit-in protest. As of Monday, March 20, Coptic youth began positioning themselves inside the guesthouse in anticipation of the demolition scheduled for five days hence. A monk has reported one youth leader as stating, “We prefer to be run over by bulldozers than relinquish the monastery to the attackers.”
Dare Saleeb has also been the target of several other recent attacks from hostile community members, including desert-dwelling Arabs who have stormed the monastery in their attempt to claim as their own the property where the guesthouse now stands. Attacks have become so frequent that the monastery unsuccessfully petitioned the city for permission to construct a protective fence.
“This latest assault against a Coptic monastery is yet another symptom of the discriminatory Egyptian laws limiting Coptic church and religious and community center construction,” said Michael Meunier, president of the U.S. Copts Association. “Non-Coptic buildings are not subject to the same biased and unjust construction laws, nor would non-Coptic communities be issued an outrageously short five-day notice of demolition.” He added, “We call on the Egyptian government to halt the demolition of the Dare Saleeb guesthouse and to investigate thoroughly the Millawi city council leadership.”

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The U.S. Copts Association, founded in 1996 and based in Washington D.C., advocates for democracy, religious freedom, and human rights in Egypt. The Association represents over 700,000 Egyptian Christians in the United States. The Association can be reached at http://www.copts.com and copts@copts.com

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3 Responses to “EGYPTIAN MONASTERY THREATENED BY CITY COUNCIL DEMOLITION EDICT”

  1. joey_g Says:

    on the money again bruv


  2. Love reading your blog. Great info!


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