Egyptian priest says Coptic church was not attacked, admits to building violations
Last Updated: Wed Oct 12, 2011 14:57 pm (KSA) 11:57 am (GMT)
Egyptian priest says Coptic church was not attacked, admits to building
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
By Al Arabiya
While Egyptians, Muslims and Christians alike, are trying to fathom the
tragedy that took place Sunday, when 25 people were killed in bloody
clashes following protests by Copts against the demolition of a church
in the south of the country, a statement made by a prominent monk has
left people in an even more puzzled state.
Monk Hedra, the archbishop of Aswan, in Upper Egypt, took everyone by
surprise when he said that the Mar Girgis church in the village of
al-Marinab was not subjected to demolition, as believed by Copts who
staged massive protests outside the state TV building in Cairo to
protest against religious discrimination in the country.
“It is not true that Muslims in the village attacked Christians during
the construction of the church, nor that they tried to demolish it or
take the cross down from its dome,” the monk said in an interview with
the Coptic channel Karma.
“There have never been any aspects of sectarian strife in the village to
start with,” he added.
Monk Hedra then recounted the story of the church that precipitated the
clashes. The church, he said, was originally a place where residents of
the village met to socialize, and Copts used to pray there on religious
occasions. Masses were always performed under the protection of security.
“This was the case for a long time until the place became very shabby
and needed renovation. It was then that Monk Makarius Bolos made use of
the contacts he has with security and the engineering administration in
Edfou [the city in Aswan governorate to which the village is
administratively affiliated] in order to issue renovation permits,
citing the building as the Mar Girgis Church.”
Based on this permit, Monk Hedra went on, Monk Makarius demolished the
house, which was owned by a Copt in the village, and started building a
“The permit stipulated a specific height and Monk Makarius exceeded
that. This is a fact no one can deny.”
According to Monk Hedra, Monk Makarius counted on his good relations
with Muslims in the village, many of whom helped with the construction.
“The problem started after the construction, which rose higher than
expected, was noticed by relatives of villagers who came to visit during
the Lesser Bairam. They started rebuking the Muslims of the village for
letting this happen and accused them of weakness.”
This incitement, he explained, resulted in some skirmishes between
Muslims and Christians in the village, but Muslims did not come near the
church and not one Christian was harmed in one way or another.
“No crosses or bells were placed on top in the first place to be removed
by Muslims or to make Muslims force Copts to remove them, as reported.”
By then, Monk Hedra added, rumors were spreading all over Egypt.
“They were totally baseless and none of what was said happened in the
village. No one thought of verifying the information from us.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)