Sunday, 10 August 2008

The dispute surrounding Abu Fana Monastery

Al Ahram Weekly by Reem Leila

The ad-hoc committee formed on 30 July to seek an end to the conflict that erupted between Bedouin Arab tribesmen and monks at the historic Abu Fana Monastery in Mallawi has ruled that the construction of a wall surrounding the monastery be resumed amid tightened security measures.

The committee, which was headed by Minya Governor Ahmed Diaaeddin and included Minya MP Alaa Hassanein, Mallawi businessman Eid Labib, representatives of the monastery and of the Bedouin Arabs involved in the dispute, decided the monks should control the northwestern areas of the monastery while the Arabs will have rights to the eastern and northern areas. Both parties are now obliged to put the agreement into action, says Hassanein. The committee has also stipulated that anyone failing to abide by its findings be fined an amount that has yet to be decided. Diaaeddin added that the committee recommended that any wall surrounding the monastery include only the original archaeological site, while a second wall will be built around Christian tombs close to the monastery. "A gate will be built, to be supervised by the monastery," he said. The committee's decisions, says Diaaeddin, carry the force of law.

The committee also stipulated that "Pope Shenouda III should work on convincing expatriate Copts to halt demonstrations under the claim Copts are being persecuted, which harms Egyptians, both Muslims and Copts," according to Diaaeddin. "They do not know our social and political climate, and their actions foment internal sedition," he said, adding that it was unacceptable to stage anti-Egyptian demonstrations

The Coptic Church is unhappy with the proposed settlement.

See the above page for the full story.

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