Shenouda makes angry statements on monastery attack
Published: June 8, 2008
Shenouda refused to be part of mediation talks.
Pope Shenouda III, head of the Coptic Church, called for heavy security presence
around the Upper Egyptian Abo Fana monastery during a phone-in on Channel 2’s El
Beit Beitak show on Saturday.
The Pope also accused the
Arab tribes living in the area of stealing LE 1 million worth of precious
belongings from the monastery, adding that the cause of the clashes was not a
“It was a criminal act
perpetrated by criminals,” he said.
The Pope also condemned
the kidnap and torture of two monks, who, the Pope alleged were asked to
renounce their faith.
“The attacks began 150
meters away from the monastery, and they got closer and closer until they were
next to the monastery where the monks were kidnapped and violently tortured.
They were pressured to renounce their religion by spitting on the cross. When
they refused, they were beaten.
They were then asked to
declare the Islamic shahada [There is no God but Allah and Mohamed is his
Prophet] and when they refused, they beat them again,” said the Pope.
He also stated that he
refuses to be part of any mediation talks.
“These are people who got
used to violence want to force the monks to pay protection money or else they
won’t allow them to build a fence around the monastery… I am not talking about
Muslim-Christian strife. I am talking about the safety of these monks who have
reclaimed this land.
“The government owns the
land, but the Arabs are against the idea of the monastery reclaiming the land
and expanding,” he said.
He explained that “such
clashes are not new but began years ago.”
In 2006, he recalled, a
similar attack took place. A formal reconciliation was reached between the monks
and the Arabs, who agreed that the land belonged to the Abo Fana monastery and
promised to help build a fence around it.
The Pope also explained
that the Arabs pledged to pay a fine of LE 500,000 in the event of further
“And despite all these
promises, clashes still continued to happen with the most recent ones involving
live ammunition,” he said.
General Ahmed Diaa El
Din, governor of Minya phoned in following the Pope’s call and promised that an
official meeting will be convened “to get to the roots of the problem.”
He also rejected the idea
of holding informal reconciliation talks because “they get us nowhere … they are
quick fixes that don’t help us reach long-term solutions.”
Eighteen people involved
in the clashes are currently under investigation – seven of which are Christians
and 11 Muslims.
Clashes had erupted at 5
pm near the Abo Fana Monastery on the outskirts of Minya a week ago due to a
wall being built around the monastery, which neighbors claimed would harm their
Muslim Khalil Mohammed
Ibrahim was killed in the clashes. Mussa Girgis, a priest at the parish, claimed
that three of the five injured monks were kidnapped and tortured after the
Source : Daily