Thursday, 21 March 2013

Congratulations to Bishop Anba Suriel of Melbourne

Our congratulations to His Grace Bishop Anba Suriel of Melbourne, Australia for being given 'The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi' at Fordham University NY United States.
Good news for His Grace and Copts everywhere.

See here for details and photographs

Bishop Anba Suriel receiving honor

Sunday, 17 March 2013

2nd UK Coptic Symposium at Coptic Centre UK

Here is notification of the upcoming 2nd International symposium on Coptic culture~: Past, Present and Future.
22-24 July 2013
Venue - The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre UK - Stevenage

Conference theme: 'Adaptation, Representation and Assimilation.

To read the review of the first symposium held at the Coptic Church Centre in May 2008 go here:
Coptic UK symposium 2008 review

To know more about the UK Coptic Orthodox Church Centre go here;
Coptic Orthodox Church centre

Please contact me for updates

Friday, 15 March 2013

Coptic church set ablaze in Libya’s Benghazi

Gunmen on Thursday attacked an Egyptian Coptic Church in the Eastern Libyan city of Benghazi and started a fire.... read more here

Coptic blog update 2013

Hello all
The Coptic blog will be up and running again from March 2013 - please look in at regular intervals for updates and news on Coptic related subjects.
I will be posting items on current and future events, news, conferences, Coptic archaeology, Coptic heritage and Coptic culture in general.
Please feel free to join the blog and add your news and views - I look forward to reading your comments

Do not forget to check our Coptic research and resource website at Coptic Resource website
Also our UK Coptic research and resource centre facebook page UK Coptic Resource centre facebook

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Coptic Cairo article June 22 - 2011

Here is an interesting article on Coptic Cairo just published - June 22, by the website

Coptic Cairo: A Complex Design of Many Parts

Posted by: Shemsu Sesen

You can read the full article here:

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Urgent appeal: Coptic studies

From a colleague at Claremont University California Saad Michael Saad;

Coptic studies exist at Claremont Graduate Univ, Toronto Univ, Macquarie Univ-Sydney & AUC because of Coptic community funding. St Shenouda Coptic Society is $8,000 away from meeting 30 June pledge to CGU.

Please read about progress and methods of donation at:

For more information on the St. Shenouda Coptic Society - see here:

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Monastic wall Paintings at Amarna Project

Please give some consideration to the Monastic wall painting project at Amarna, where funds are being raised to document the important wall paintings at the 5th-7th century monastic site of Kom el-Nana at Amarna Please view the website for further details - Many thanks.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Jordan battles to regain 'priceless' Christian relics

They could be the earliest Christian writing in existence, surviving almost 2,000 years in a Jordanian cave. They could, just possibly, change our understanding of how Jesus was crucified and resurrected, and how Christianity was born. A group of 70 or so "books", each with between five and 15 lead leaves bound by lead rings, was apparently discovered in a remote arid valley in northern Jordan somewhere between 2005 and 2007. A flash flood had exposed two niches inside the cave, one of them marked with a menorah or candlestick, the ancient Jewish religious symbol. A Jordanian Bedouin opened these plugs, and what he found inside might constitute extremely rare relics of early Christianity. That is certainly the view of the Jordanian government, which claims they were smuggled into Israel by another Bedouin. Continue reading the main story “ Start Quote As soon as I saw that, I was dumbstruck” End Quote Philip Davies Sheffield University The Israeli Bedouin who currently holds the books has denied smuggling them out of Jordan, and claims they have been in his family for 100 years Read the full article by Robert Pigott of the BBc here:

Friday, 25 March 2011

Christianity and Monasticism in Upper Egypt Vol 2

The 2008 St Mark Foundation Symposium contribution papers are now published in the regular series of "Christianity and Monasticism in Upper Egypt" - the current one is Volume 2: Nag Hammadi-Esna
Here are the details and contributors:

Edited by Gawdat Gabra
Hany Takla

New studies in Christianity in the Sohag region

Christianity and monasticism have flourished in Upper Egypt from as early as the fourth century until the present day. The contributors to this volume, international specialists in Coptology from around the world, examine various aspects of Coptic civilization along the Nile Valley from Nag Hammadi (associated with the famous discovery of Gnostic papyri) through Luxor and Coptos and south to Esna over the past seventeen hundred years, looking at Coptic religious history, tradition, language, heritage, and material culture in the region through texts, art, architecture and archaeology. Contributors: Iwona Antoniak, Heike Behlmer, Ramez Boutros, Renate Dekker, Marianne Eaton-Krauss, Stephen Emmel, Cäcilia Fluck, Gawdat Gabra, James E. Goehring, Martin Krause, Bishop Martyros, Nashaat Mekhaiel, Howard Middleton-Jones, Samuel Moawad, Ashraf Nageh, Fr. Angelous el-Naqlouny, Elisabeth R. O’Connell, Tonio Siegfried Richter, Adel F. Sadek, Ashraf Alexandre Sadek, Fr. Bigoul al-Suriany, Matthew Underwood, Jacques van der Vliet, Gertrud J.M. van Loon, Fr. Awad Wadi, Youhanna Nessim Youssef

You can purchase the book via AUC press - or if you are in the Book fair at Tahrir you may be able to purchase there

Tahrir Book Fair Cairo

Reminder - The Tahrir Book Fair Program takes place in Cairo March 31 - April for more information check the AUC website;

Egypt’s Christians and Muslims Face Unity and Tensions

As Egyptians shape their political destiny, there are questions about whether the Christian-Muslim unity seen during the popular uprising will hold.

On this Sunday morning, Christians attend mass in Egypt’s Coptic Cairo neighborhood, where they have worshipped since pre-Islamic times. Egypt’s Coptic community is the largest Christian population in the Arab world, as Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 82 million people.

Read the full article here;

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Cairo update

Over 50,000 protesters have amassed at Tahrir square despite a curfew in place from 16.00 local Cairo time today.
The military have also surrounded the Giza Plateau (Pyramid site) and have closed off the area to the public.
The Military have also secured the Egyptian museum in Cairo....

Egypt events - updates

Apologies for not updating recently - I have just returned from Cairo, and just missed the sensational events just taking place - if you want to receive regular and live updates of events happening in Egypt in this historic period, I will attempt to update here, and you can also get up to the minute reports on my facebook page - just add me to your list (Howard Middleton-Jones)

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Copts retrun to deadly blomb blast in Alexandria

Alexandria, Egypt (CNN) -- Emotional congregants returned to their church Sunday in Alexandria, Egypt, mourning the loss of fellow worshippers in a bombing a day earlier

Sunday, 12 December 2010

A view of Cairo from the Patriarchate

A view of Cairo from the then unfinished cultural Centre in the Patriarchate - Bishop Dioscorus is looking out from a window while the building was under construction in September 2008

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Picture of the week

Aswan St.Marks Coptic Symposium February 2010 - the group at the Monastic site of Qubbat al-Hawa

Monday, 15 November 2010

Egyptian Security Attempts to Stop Construction of Church

(AINA) — Thousands of Copts staged a sit-in inside and outside the Church of the St. Mary in Talbiya, in the Pyramids area, since the morning of November 11, to protest the storming of the church premises by dozens of security forces to stop construction work and demolish stairs and toilets inside the church, despite the church having obtained the necessary permits.

For more information go here:

Monday, 1 November 2010

Egyptian Book of the dead Exhibition London

There is an exhibition of the Egyptian Book of the Dead at the British Museum, London, from November 4th to March 6th 2011 - this is a unique display and well worth seeing.

More information here:

Above Scene from the Book of the Dead of Hunefer. Egypt, c. 1280 BC

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury interview 2008 - Desert Fathers

Just a reminder for those who have not seen the video of my interview with Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth Palace, London in 2008, you can view the whole interview on the main Coptic research site by clicking on the photograph of Dr. Williams

The Archbishop of Canterbury has had a long time interest in the Desert Fathers and has visited many of the Coptic monastic and church sites in Egypt - He has also written much on the subject.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Coptic Art revealed - Exhibition Cairo November 2010 - January 2011

An exhibition of Coptic art called 'Coptic Art Revealed' will open at Amir Taz Palace Cairo, commencing 28th November 2010 until January 31st 2011.

Quote from Dr. Nadja Tomoum Project Manager and Chief Curator;

"More than 200 masterpieces of Coptic art will be displayed on around 400 m2: Colourful icons painted by the famous artists Yuhanna Al Armani, Ibrahim Al Nasikh and Anastasi Al Rumi, beautiful textiles, illuminated manuscripts from the Coptic Museum’s archives, an excerpt from the famous Nag Hammadi Library, stone and wooden friezes with intriguing designs as well as splendid metal objects and pottery, among other priceless items will give expression to important facets of the Coptic culture."

More information here:

Fortunately I will be in Cairo in January so - inshallah, will visit the exhibition

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Picture of the week

I am introducing a weekly image to upload onto the Coptic blog - while I have a considerable number of photographs from my travels in Egypt and elsewhere, please feel to contact me if you think you have a suitable picture relating to Egypt and Coptic culture, that others may find of interest.

This week's image is of myself and Bishop Martyros of Cairo and his colleague at the evening dinner of the 2008 conference of the International Association of Coptic Studies in Cairo.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Alexandria Coptic Conference summing up

The Coptic conference in Alexandria, September 21st - 23rd, 'Coptic life in Egypt' which was held in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina - the Library of Alexandria, Egypt, appeared to be a great success -
Unfortunately I was unable to attend, but I set up a live video conferencing link from Swansea University here in Wales, and followed all of the presentations that were filmed from the small theatre.

If you wish to look at a list of the abstracts you can download them here..

Jacques Van der vliet from Leiden gave a very good succinct introductory talk on Coptology and its importance to Egypt and the world, bringing in a diverse range of subject matter and new projects that will help to promote Coptic studies and the Coptic heritage in general.

There were a number of 'new faces' on the block so to speak, in the form of post graduates from a number of institutions who gave some interesting presentations outlining their current research - although perhaps a few lessons in public presentations/speaking may be called for as they did rather flash through the photographs and slides as if there were a fire in the theatre...having said that, the content was thorough and interesting.

A diverse range of subject areas were covered, including, architecture (both Coptic and Islamic) art, culture, history, the church, literature, language and texts.

The final keynote speech was given by Prof, Stephen Emmel, director of the Institute of Egyptology and Coptology at Muenster, Germany, and who is now in fact in Cairo for a year where has has the first chair in Coptology at the American University in Cairo.

Stephen gave an excellent talk on the future of Coptic Stidies, where areas of education, heritage and methods of dissipation of Coptic research were covered and discussed with some enthusiasm at the question and answer session.

Overall, the conference certainly birthed a few lively debates on topical issues, and helped to place the field of Coptology (Coptic studies) back on the map once more.

It is encouraging that conferences covering the field of Coptology are increasing, and possibly will help to promote many more symposiums of a more local nature, encouraging more of the younger members to present their research.

I look forward to hearing of a second conference, and inshallah, I will be attending.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Egyptian papyrus found in Irish peat bog - Coptic connections

September, 06 2010


Irish scientists have found fragments of Egyptian papyrus in the leather cover of an ancient book of psalms that was unearthed from a peat bog, Ireland's National Museum said on Monday.

The papyrus in the lining of the Egyptian-style leather cover of the 1,200-year-old manuscript, "potentially represents the first tangible connection between early Irish Christianity and the Middle Eastern Coptic Church", the Museum said.

"It is a finding that asks many questions and has confounded some of the accepted theories about the history of early Christianity in Ireland."

Raghnall O Floinn, head of collections at the Museum, said the manuscript, now known as the "Faddan More Psalter", was one of the top ten archaeological discoveries in Ireland.

It was uncovered four years ago by a man using a mechanical digger to harvest peat near Birr in County Tipperary, but analysis has only just been completed.

O Floinn told AFP the illuminated vellum manuscript encased in the leather binding dated from the eighth century but it was not known when or why it ended up in the bog where it was preserved by the chemicals in the peat.

"It appears the manuscript's leather binding came from Egypt. The question is whether the papyrus came with the cover or if it was added.

"It is possible that the imperfections in the hide may allow us to confirm the leather is Egyptian.

"We are trying to track down if there somebody who can tell us if this is possible. That is the next step."

O Floinn said the psalter is about the size of a tabloid newspaper and about 15 percent of the pages of the psalms, which are written in Latin, had survived.

The experts believe the manuscript of the psalms was produced in an Irish monastery and it was later put in the leather cover.

"The cover could have had several lives before it ended up basically as a folder for the manuscript in the bog," O Floinn said.

"It could have travelled from a library somewhere in Egypt to the Holy Land or to Constantinople or Rome and then to Ireland."

The National Museum in Dublin plans to put the psalter on public display for the first time next year

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Coptic Conference Alexandria September 21st-23rd

The Coptic conference in Alexandria organised by the calligraphy Centre of the Egyptian has now been brought forward to September 21st - until 23rd

I hope to arrange a video conference link at Swansea University, however, it will be covered via the Internet - inshallah!

More details here -

The subjects covered are:
Conference Themes
1. History and Archaeology in Egypt in the Byzantine Period,
2. History and Archaeology in Egypt in the Coptic Period,
3. Minor Art in Coptic Egypt,
4. Coptic Language, Architecture,
5. Restoration (wood, metal work, textile, etc) ,
6. Coptic Icons and Murals,
7. Touristic Sites Development,
8. Environment, Architecture,
9. Comparative Studies between Ancient Egyptian and Coptic Eras.

Friday, 20 August 2010

New film to benefit Coptic church

I Have ben informed that a new film has been made that will hopefully benefit the Coptic Church. It is called 'Visions and Miracles' By Paul Perry the Producer and Director of the acclaimed Documentary

“Jesus: The Lost Years

For further information and how to get the DVD - go here;

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Coptic conference Wake forest university Carolina USA

A colleague of mine, Nelly Van Doorn-Harder is organising a coptic conference in September at Wake Forest University Winston-Salem North Carolina USA - here are the provisional details;

September 17-19, 2010

With generous support from Wake Forest University’s
Provost’s Office
Religion Department
Divinity School
Carswell Fund


DAY I: FRIDAY, September 17, 2010
Location: Wingate Hall 302

12:30-1:30 pm

I. Dislocation and Ethnomusicology Practices

Carolyn Ramzy (University of Toronto, Canada)
Exploring Coptic Music Narratives: Collaborative Ethnography and the Study of Coptic Folk Taratīl.

Severine Gabry (France)
Contemporary studies on Coptic music: the impact of the current musical practices on the community.

Respondent: to be confirmed.

1:30 – 2:30 pm

II. Gender, Monasticism, Miracle, and Mystery

Caroline Schroeder (University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA)
The Perfect Monk: Ideals of Masculinity in the Monastery of Shenoute.

Nelly van Doorn-Harder (Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC)
Vehicles of Holiness: Gendered Visual Culture to Define Identity and Set Boundaries

Respondent: Akram Khater, (North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC).

2:30 – 3:00 coffee break

III. Church-citizen-state engagements

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Vivian Ibrahim (SOAS, London)
‘Ode to the Fezzed Shaykh’- Coptic resistance against the Muslim Brotherhood in 1940s Egypt.”
Laure Guirguis (France)
The rise of a "Coptic question" and the contemporary transformations of
Egyptian authoritarianism.

Respondent: Michaelle Browers (Wake Forest University)

4:00-4:30 Discussion

5:00-7:00 pm
Location: Annenberg Forum, Carswell Hall

Opening greetings

Keynote speech by Karel Innemee (Leiden University)

Sixteen Centuries of Wall Paintings in an Ancient Desert Church
7:00 – 9:00 pm Green Room at Reynolda Hall

DAY II: SATURDAY, September 18, 2010
Location: Pugh Auditorium, Benson Hall

IV. Coptic Art &Visual Culture

9:00-10:30 am

Darlene Brooks Hedstrom, (Wittenberg University Springfield, OH)
Reconsidering Late Antiquity and the Emerging Monastic Desertscape.

Angie Heo, (Barnard University, NY)
Virgin of Zeitoun in 1968: Holy Images of Expansion and Return.

Karel Innemee (Leiden University, the Netherlands)
The Paradox of Monasticism.

Responding: David Morgan, (Duke University, Durham, NC) & Lynne Neal (Wake Forest University)
10:30 – 11:00 am Coffee break

V. Maintaining and Defining Identities

11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Maged Mikhail (California State University, Fullerton, CA)
Demetrius of Alexandria (d. 232) in Medieval Egypt.

Mark Swanson (LSTC, Chicago, IL)
Telling the Church’s Story: genre, belief, event, and portrayal in the History of the Patriarchs.

Jason Zabarowski (Bradley University, Peoria, IL)
Religion for God and Homeland for People:” Coptic Identity and the Egyptian National Myth

Responding: Vincent Cornell, (Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia) & Kari Vogt (Oslo University)

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Lunch
Location: Refectory on lower level of Wingate Hall.

Continuation Panel Maintaining and Defining Identities
2:00 pm – 2:45 pm

Keynote speech by Gawdat Gabra (Claremont Graduate University)
Constructing the Coptic Encyclopedia

2:45 pm – 4:30 pm

Febe Armanios (Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont)
Coptic Religious Life in Ottoman Egypt (1517-1798).

Paul Sedra (Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada)
Bringing the Copts Back In: Why the Copts are Essential to Understanding Modern Egyptian History.

Responding: Vincent Cornell, (Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia) & Kari Vogt (Oslo University).

4:30 – 4:45 pm Break

4:45 – 6:00 pm

Keynote speech by Stephen Davis (Yale University, New Haven, CT)
New Frontiers in Archeology: Findings at the White Monastery.

6:30 - 8:30 pm Dinner
Location: START Gallery, Reynolda Village

DAY III SUNDAY, September 19, 2010
Location: Pugh Auditorium Benson Hall

VI. Re-inventing Identities

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Magdi Guirguis (Coptic Studies Chair, American University in Cairo, Egypt)
The limits of the Coptic “community:” who represented this community during the 16-18th centuries.

Gaétan du Roy (Louvain, Belgium)
Research on garbage collectors of Moqattam and more specifically about the history of the religious institutions.

Responding :Akram Khater, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

2:00 – 2:30 pm break

2:30 – 3:30 pm

Keynote speech by Magdi Guirguis (American University Cairo)
Challenges in Studying Coptic Church and Society in 16th – 19th Century.

3:30 – 4:30 pm

Keynote speech by Vivian Ibrahim (SOAS, London)
Reconsidering Studying the Copts during a Time in Motion: the 1900-1940.

4:30 – 5:00 pm

Final Discussion.

St. John the Baptist relics found on Bulgarian island

St John the Baptist's bones 'found in Bulgarian monastery'
The remains of St John the Baptist have been found in an ancient reliquary in a 5th century monastery on Sveti Ivan Island in Bulgaria, archaeologists have claimed.

The remains – small fragments of a skull, bones from a jaw and an arm, and a tooth – were discovered embedded in an altar in the ruins of the ancient monastery, on the island in the Black Sea.

A Greek inscription on the stone casque contains a reference to June 24 – the date on which John the Baptist is believed to have been born.
"We found the relics of St John the Baptist - exactly what the archaeologists had expected," said Bozhidar Dimitrov, Bulgaria's minister without portfolio and a former director of the country's National History Museum, who was present when the stone urn was opened.

"It has been confirmed that these are parts of his skeleton."

Exactly how the relics ended up on the island is a mystery, but Mr Dimitrov said they may have been donated by the Christian Church in Constantinople when Bulgaria was part of the Byzantine Empire.

But other experts cast doubt on the claim, saying carbon dating tests were needed before the bones could be identified as belonging to Christ's baptiser.

Many countries around the Mediterranean claim to have remains of St John, including Turkey, Montenegro, Greece, Italy and Egypt.

Full article from the Daily Telegraph UK - link here;

Friday, 7 May 2010

Canadian Coptic symposium May 29th

Saturday May 29th 2010
Earth Sciences Centre
Reichman Family Lecture Hall (Room 1050)
5 Bancroft Ave., University of Toronto
Co-Sponsored by
The Canadian Society for Coptic Studies (CSCS)
Department of Near and Middle Eastern Studies (NMC),
University of Toronto
Saint Mark's Coptic Museum, Scarborough

Registration fee:
CSCS member: $20.- CSCS Student member: $10.-
Non-member: $25.- Non-member student: $15.-
(lunch included)

8.30 - 9.45 Registration

9.45 - 10.00 Welcome
President: Canadian Society for Coptic Studies.

First Session
Chair Prof. Jitse H.F. Dijkstra, Associate Professor and Head of Classics,
Department of Classics and Religious Studies, University of Ottawa.

10.00 - 10.45 Prof. Stephen Davis: Professor and Director of
Undergraduate Studies, Department of Religious Studies, Yale University.
"The Excavation of the Monastery of Saint Shenute of Atripe".

10.45 - 11.00 (Discussion)

11.00 - 11.45 Prof. Anne Moore, Associate Professor, Department
of Religious Studies, University of Calgary.
"Shenoute, Prophet for the People"

11.45 - 12.00 (Discussion)

12.00 - 1.30 Lunch Break

Second Session
Chair Prof. Stephen Davis.
1.30 - 2.00 Dr. Ramez Boutros, Instructor, NMC.
"The Cave Church of Gabal al-Tayr: a pilgrimage site from the
Early Mediaeval Period in Middle Egypt"

2.00 - 2.30 Prof. Jitse H.F Dijkstra, Associate Professor
and head of Classics, department of Classics and Religious
Studies, University of Ottawa.
"The Isis Temple Graffiti Project: Preliminary Results".

2.30 - 3.00 Coffee Break

Third Session
Chair Prof. Sheila Campbell: Emeritus Fellow, Pontifical Institute
of Mediaeval Studies (PIMS), U of T.

3.00 - 3.30 Dr. Emile Tadros: Researcher at the Higher Institute
of Coptic Studies in Cairo, Department of Coptic Liturgical Music.
" 'Cosmic Music' in Early Christian Literature in Egypt".

3.30 - 4.00 Dr. Helene Moussa: Volunteer Curator, St. Mark's
Coptic Museum, Scarborough.
"Icon of St. Mina, St. Mark's Coptic Museum, Akhmim Style?"

4.00 - 4.30 Stretch break

Fourth session
Chair Prof. Anne Moore.

4.30 - 5.00 Bishoy Dawood: Ph.D. Candidate in Systematic
Theology, University of St. Michael's College in the University
of Toronto.
"The Coptic Calendar".

5.00 - 5.30 Joseph Youssef: M.A. Student, York University.
"Ritualization Processes in Coptic Monastic Rituals and Initiation

5.30 Closure

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Deir al Surian monastery Library project

The Levantine Foundation is working with the monastery of Deir al Surian in Wadi al-Natrun to build a modern library and to conserve and record the manuscript collection. The collection is of historic significance to the worlds of scholarship, the Christian Church and the heritage of Egypt.

Please take a look at the project on their website and if you are able to assist in anyway contact the Foundation.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Reading Coptic texts day symposium April 24 London

Birkbeck College in London is hosting the following day symposium on April 24th

Literature, Language and Life in Late Antique Egypt, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean'
FFEY054N0 – Reading Coptic Texts
Saturday 24th April 2010

Welcome and Introductions 9.45am – 10:00am
Session I - 10.00am - 11.00am
A brief introduction to the history of the Late Antique period in the area, with its literary, documentary and historical sources. The spread of Christianity and its impact, particularly during the periods of persecution, leading to the growth of the monastic movement in Egypt. The spirit and influence of the desert fathers. The contribution of Egyptian Christianity to the great Ecumenical councils, and the influence of its monasticism on the rest of the Byzantine world. (Dr. Graham Gould, formerly of King's College, London and author of The Desert Fathers on Monastic Community, Oxford 1993)

Coffee Break - 11.00am - 11.30am
Session 2 - 11.30am - 12.30pm
The particular contribution of Egypt to Literature in Late Antiquity (with selected readings in translation, some of them by actress and Shakespearean scholar, Kay Senior).

Session 3 - 12.30pm - 1.30pm
Communication in Late Antique Egypt. The languages used in different spheres of activity, and the development of Coptic dialects especially in the Christian context. Depending on the experience of those who applied for the course, I would propose a two-tier language taster, with an explanation of the Greek and Coptic alphabets and principles of language for those who have done no Greek or Coptic, and a chance to read one or two easy texts for those who already do have some experience (with help from Basil Stein). (Dr. Carol Downer, Birkbeck)

Lunch Break – 1.30pm – 2.30pm
Session 5 - 2.30pm - 3.30pm
A practical demonstration of techniques of writing these languages - from the calligraphic expert, Paul Antonio. A chance to try one's hand at writing in the ancient style.

Tea Break - 3.30pm - 4.00pm
Session 5 – 4.00pm – 5.00pm
An introduction to Coptic music and chant (with recorded music and part of a DVD of Coptic liturgy), followed by a slide session on the artistic life of the Egyptians in the Coptic period.

call the central enrolment team on 020 7631 6651 to enrol, or online by going to this link:

For any further information please contact Brett O’Shaughnessy on 020 7631 6627
Course title: 'Literature, Language and Life in Late Antique Egypt, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean'
Course code: FFEY054NO/ACB
Course venue: Birkbeck College, Malet Street, University of London
Fee: £42 (full) / £21 (Concession)
By phone:

Sunday, 7 March 2010

A free 10 week course on Coptic Studies at Swansea UK

For those of you living in Wales, UK or on holiday From April 21st, Swansea University Adult Continuing Education Department is offering a free 10 week course - 2 hours each week on wednesday mornings 10am-12pm on Coptic Studies.
I will be 'Egypt - The rise of Christianity in the first 1000 years AD - the Art and Culture of the Coptic Period'

For details and how to register please contact me;

Review of the Aswan St Mark Coptic conference 2010

Jill Kamil has her review article published in al-ahram weekly of the St Mark Foundation Coptic Symposium held in Aswan February 1st - 4th.
You can read the article, titled 'Revisiting the Souhern Frontier'

The full articles is below;

Early Christianity and Monasticism in Aswan and Nubia" was the fifth symposium on Coptic Studies to take place at a monastic centre. Organised by Coptologist Gawdat Gabra, Fawzi Estafanous of the St Mark Foundation for Coptic History Studies, Hani Takla, president of the St Shenouda Society, and under the auspices of Pope Shenouda III and Anba Hedra, archbishop of Aswan, it was held in the new Monastery of St Hatre (still under construction), within walking distance of the ruins of the famous Monastery of St Hatre in the Western Desert -- known for some unknown reason by early archaeologists and travellers as the Monastery of St Simeon.

Situated due south-west of the southern tip of Elephantine, the monastery is named after an anchorite who was consecrated by Patriarch Theophilus, bishop of Syene (Aswan), at the beginning of the fifth century.

Before the opening ceremony the participants walked down the rocky incline from the new monastery to the old, where a mass was held. As we made our way back to the conference centre we were left wondering why this large and impressive monastery was in such a sorry state of repair. It was apparently examined and published by Peter Grossman in 1985, and in 1998 the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) removed some debris from the church, but little else appears to have been achieved.

"Anba Hedra, who presented a paper on the modern history of Christianity in Aswan, talked about the importance of the location. Aswan [ Suan in Coptic and derived from the Greek Syene] was a flourishing borderline market for thousands of years. Rich in natural resources including granite, quartz and iron, it was strategically important because the southern tip of the island of Elephantine commanded the First Cataract that formed a natural boundary with Nubia. The noblemen of Elephantine were known as Keepers of the Southern Gate, which was the starting point for the caravan routes for the earliest commercial and military expeditions.

From a distance, the past seems orderly, with clear-cut periods demarcated by battles, wars, church councils and conflicts, but "real history is different and far more confusing", said Jacques van der Vliet, a scholar more fascinated with inscriptions than by architectural remains and oral tradition. In "Contested Frontiers -- southern Egypt and northern Nubia, AD 500-1500", he pointed out that although Aswan traditionally represented Egypt's southern frontier "if not in reality at least symbolically", the notion of "frontier" was complex since, while political frontiers draw seemingly clear-cut boundary lines, "cultural, linguistic and religious boundaries are by definition less easy to grasp, even when they coincide with political boundaries."

Van der Vliet presented a chronological discussion of selected inscriptions covering 1,000 years of Christianity in the broader Aswan region -- which is to say around the Aswan, Elephantine and Philae regions; the monasteries of Hatre and Qubbet Al-Hawa on the west bank of the Nile; north as far as Kom Ombo, Edfu, Esna (which were major Roman temple areas and later Christian sites); and south beyond Qasr Ibrim to the Nubian kingdoms of Nobatae, Makuria and Alwa.

The temple-church of Qasr Ibrim was the subject of a presentation by Joost Hagen. Ibrim is all that remains of an important frontier post in Roman times that commanded a view of the Nile valley and desert for miles around. Between 30 BC and 395 AD it was the official border between Egypt and Nubia, and its control by the Roman general Petronius is well documented. His task was to contain the Blemmys (Beja) and the Nobodai tributes of the Eastern and Western deserts. Later, when Christianity spread throughout Nubia at the beginning of the sixth century, a Pharaonic temple on the site (built by the 25th-dynasty Nubian ruler Pharaoh Taharqa) was converted into a church, and the great cathedral on the summit was built in the 12th century. Threatened as it was with total inundation by Lake Nasser, excavations started in the 1960s when an important discovery was made. A body clad in episcopal robes was unearthed, and within its folds were long scrolls written in Arabic and Coptic. This was only a beginning. This site has proved vital for historical research. Among the most important discoveries made so far is a horde of ancient documents written in a host of languages -- Old Nubian, Arabic, Coptic, and Greek. They are private and official letters, legal documents and petitions, literary and documentary texts, dating from the end of the eighth to the 15th centuries.

Father Wadei Abul-Lif outlined the work of one of the first great scholars to write about Nubia, whose "great achievements" have not been given due credit. Monneret de Villard (1881-1954) was, Father Wadei said, worth more than the few lines devoted to him in the Coptic Encyclopaedia. He first outlined de Villard's credentials, and then went on to describe how his works on Christian Egypt and Nubia could be divided into three groups which together covered a vast range of studies on Egypt's monasteries and churches. De Villard carried out studies on Aswan and the Monastery of Saint Simeon, as it was then known, as well as various studies in Nubia where he worked from 1929 to 1934. This prolific scholar, who was neither a philologist nor an epigraphist, admitted to relying on earlier information in cases where all traces of antiquity had disappeared, but he nevertheless provided original descriptions, especially in those cities where there was more than one church. On the island of Philae, site of the Graeco- Roman Temple of Isis, no fewer than six churches were described by de Villard, and he gave the names of nine bishops. He wrote about "many churches" in Faras, some of which he could not enter because they had been converted in mosques or were used as houses. The number of churches and monasteries he described was enormous, Father Wadei said.

Modern scholars all too frequently overlook studies made by individuals with scholarly limitations, yet we can learn a great deal from their work. From de Villard we know that, in the third century, there were Egyptian Christians in Nubia, even before the evangelisation of the sixth century when Egypt was under Byzantine rule, and the last pagan temple on Egyptian soil, the Temple of Isis in Philae, was officially closed by Justinian. Wadei pointed out that although de Villard's work was incomplete (he died in 1954 before the construction of the High Dam) his works should be resuscitated as they are "indispensable to the knowledge of Nubian history, of which," Father Wadei concluded, "there are few books, "and also because of still differing theories regarding the first missionaries to Nubia."

S.G. Richter's paper entitled "Beginnings of Christianity in Nubia" (read in his absence by Gawdat Gabra) outlined the discoveries made in Egypt and Nubia from Napoleon's expedition to Egypt towards the end of the 18th century through to the UNESCO- sponsored salvage operations carried out at the request of the Egyptian and Sudanese governments. "The results definitely changed our knowledge about the Christian heritage of Nubia," Richter wrote, "not only in the amount of ecclesiastical remains but also the quality of objects, like the famous wall-paintings of Faras which brought Nubia in line with countries with highly developed Christian cultures. Sources are limited, but the paper mentioned that "the Christian faith was known and accepted in Nubia in the fourth and fifth centuries" and Richter made reference to personalities like Moses the Black, a Nubian who lived in Wadi Al-Natrun who was witness to Christian influences in Nubia; also to Nubians mentioned as among the congregation in Sohag in one of St Shenoute's homilies. "It is possible that [Egyptian] monks and hermits of Upper Egypt taught Nubians about their faith at Egypt's southern border" Richter wrote. And, on sixth-century literary sources that describe an official mission that succeeded in converting the three kingdoms of Nubia to Christianity, he admitted to "gaps in our knowledge..." which left the door open "for misinterpretation and consequences which have lasted for decades."

Prior to a tour of the Monastery of Qubbet Al-Hawa, Renate Dekker gave a paper on this unique, octagon-domed structure, its location and documentation by early archaeologists. "The monastery seems to have been developed out of a hermitage in Late Antiquity," Dekker said (which, in more familiar local jargon, refers to the Byzantine era of Egypt's history from the fourth to the seventh centuries). She described that it was cut in the east side of the cliff, and that the tombs provided a solid and cool place, and a shelter from the sun and wind. She outlined the work by Peter Grossmann in 1985, in which he described its architectural features, and by the SCA in 1998. She described its various features, which enabled documentation of its progressive growth on two levels connected by means of rock- cut staircases, and added that there remained many imponderables. She admitted that the structure remained "an architectural puzzle".

It certainly is a challenge. On the trip to the monastery we had an opportunity to see beautiful wall paintings which, as in the Monastery of St Hedra, are in urgent need of conservation. On the west wall of the church is an apse adorned with a two-zoned composition, a popular style in monastic painting. The upper section of the composition depicts Christ in glory, his right hand raised in a posture of blessing, while in his left hand he holds a book; the mandorla is supported by six angels in full flight. Below this scene, on the lower part of the apse, the Holy Virgin stands among the 12 Apostles. To the north of the apse is a long, barrel vaulted room, where six figures are depicted on its west wall. Among the Coptic texts on the wall is one significant entry written on a layer of plaster which was applied over the paintings. It bears the date AM 896 (1180 AD), which clearly indicates that the wall paintings were executed prior to that date.

Recalling these paintings, and similar ones in the monastery of St Hedra, I am reminded of the paper given by Mary Kupelian, "A Comparative Study of the Ascension Scene in the Apse of the Monastery at Qubbat Al-Hawa", in which she demonstrates that New Testament themes, which are to be found in monasteries all over the country, provide an iconic view of sacred a person or persons, they relate to the liturgy, and they serve to describe the biblical narrative. Kupelian observes that the themes in the apse are symbolic; that the ascension is the only narrative theme in the apse; and that it is common to churches all over the country including the church of the Holy Virgin in the Deir Al-Surian in Wadi Natrun, the church chapel of the Virgin in the Monastery of Abu Seifein in Old Cairo, and the two ancient monasteries in Aswan.

Sabri Shaker gave an excellent paper about the architectural restoration of the monastery of St Hedra. Demolition of the roofing of the church increased the speed of deterioration of the works which, within the last 70 years, have been badly damaged; those on the lower level have been better protected. The first phase of the conservation plan entails new roofing and consolidation of architectural features. This will be followed by an analytical study of the condition of the wall paintings with view to conservation.

Shaker is collaborating with Howard Middleton Jones with a view to developing a standard methodology towards the reconstruction, preservation and conservation of Coptic monuments in Egypt. Jones's paper outlined a proposed method that has been tested in the archaeological world over the past decade, and which, he suggests, could be integrated with ongoing projects in Egypt. He opined that "organising a 'universal' method would assist not only in recording, analysing and preserving Coptic wall paintings and inscriptions, but also monastic sites as a whole, thus preserving the important and unique Coptic heritage"

Ancient history encapsulated

THE OPENING ceremony of the seminar was enhanced by a colourful panorama put on by the children of Aswan who enacted the various eras of Egypt's history. They ranged in age from first graders through to teenagers, and put on a wonderful show. Along the aisle of the great tent where the opening ceremony took place came tiny representatives of the earliest Pharaohs wearing the Red Crown of Upper Egypt, the White Crown of Lower Egypt, and the Double Crown representing the unification of the "Two Lands". The proud pyramid-builders carried pyramids, the mighty conquerors of peak periods in Egyptian history marched up the aisle. Ancient history, legendary history, through to the Ptolemaic were all present. Then came the arrival of St Mark the Evangelist in Alexandria, and the biblical story of the Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt. There were furry animals and an awe-inspiring lion. The children of Aswan are to be commended for their enthusiasm, talent, discipline, and (I must add) their fluency in English as their second language. Aswan Governor Mustafa El-Said could not fail to be proud

Saturday, 6 March 2010

New UK Coptic Research centre

At last - after many months of trying to set up a Research Centre, it has finally 'gone live' - March 1st 2010
It will be a few weeks before I am able to set up a full listing etc - but you can go to the website for further details.
If anyone is interested in following the progress, contributing articles or letters and their research, please contact me via the website or email me at.. with a header Coptic Research Centre

Many thanks

UK Coptic symposium 2010

The latest information I have is that the 2nd UK Coptic symposium will be held over the weekend of December 10/12th 2010 at the Coptic Centre Stevenage, England.
More news when I receive updates.

Friday, 11 September 2009

St. Mark Foundation Coptic History Studies - Symposium Aswan 2010

A reminder that the St Mark Foundation for Coptic History studies will be hosting the 2010 symposium at Aswan from January 31st - February 4th

For further information check the coptic research website at or email me at

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Workshop on Coptic documentation in Cairo (May 30-31

Supreme Council of Antiquities "Department of the Documentation and Registration of the Coptic Monuments"

Inauguration of a Department of the Documentation and Registration of the Coptic Monuments by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. You are kindly invited to either attend this workshop or to offer any kind of support, technical or else.

Ministry of Culture
Supreme Council of Antiquities
General Department of the Documentation
and Registration of Coptic Monuments
3 Al-aadel Abubakr st., Zamalek, Cairo
00202- 273-656-45, 273- 587- 49

Dear Colleague:
On behalf of Dr. Zahi Hawass, I would like to announce the inauguration of a newly established Department by the SCA titled "Department of the Documentation and Registration of the Coptic Monuments". This Department aims to:
1) Fully document and register all Coptic monuments in: museums, different archaeological sights (related to either Islamic and Coptic or Pharaonic sectors' sights), excavations outcome, stores and magazines and every Coptic monument in Egypt.
2) Preparation for publications of these documentations.
3) Initiation of the Coptic monuments cultural awareness through: Lectures, training courses, periodicals etc.
4) Arrangement and gathering of efforts of all whom are interested and experts in Coptology in and outside Egypt.
The Department is about to hold a preliminary workshop at 30, 31 May 2009 entitled "Documentation and registration of Coptic monuments, challenges and solutions" in 3 Al-aadel Abubakr st., Zamalek, Cairo.
This workshop will include round table discussions in different fields: Survey and architectural documentation, GIS, icons, Coptic papyri, photography and new documentation techniques, wood, metals, textiles, and other fields of Coptic monuments Documentation.
These discussions aim to:
Allow a kind of brainstorming between experts to get different ideas which will help to figure out a detailed plan of action.
To recognize and arrange efforts between Coptologists and those who may be involved in this National project of the Documentation of the Coptic monuments. You are kindly invited to either attend this workshop or to offer any kind of support, technical or else.
If you have any ideas concerning this project, or any questions or suggestions, please contact me:

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

, 002105399455
Dr. Louay Mahmoud Saied
GM of the General Department of the Documentation and Registration of Coptic Monuments
SCA, Cairo, Egypt

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Coptic lectures in London

A colleague, Joost Hagen in Leiden has just notified me of three lectures he is giving in London this coming week;
The information is below - I hope some of you are able to attend.

Some of you might know I hope to be in London and give three different lectures about my research next week.
Apart from the one during the Sudan Archaeological Research Society day in the British Museum on Monday, which in a way briefly summarizes the other two,

There is one on Tuesday at SOAS and one on Wednesday for the EES.

The details are the following: SOAS:

Tuesday the 12th of May, 5-7 PM, in room FG01 of the Faber Building of SOAS in Thornhaugh Street / Russell Square: Wine for the Bishop: Kings and Saints of medieval Christian Nubia: New evidence from Qasr Ibrim EES:

Wednesday the 13th of May, 6:30-7:30 PM, in the Committee Room of the Egypt Exploration Society, 3, Doughty Mews, London: A dossier of one Arabic and four Coptic letters found at Qasr Ibrim: Christian Nubia, Muslim Egypt and the Blemmyes / Beja in 758-60 AD

The SOAS lecture is free and accessible for all, but for the EES one, only some seven of the twenty(-five) places are still available; these can be obtained via the internet by filling out the form provided here:

(please copy and paste; also accessible via the EES website). I would be very happy if I could welcome you at one of these lectures!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Coptic culture - Ancient Egyptian Literature, Part IX

Ancient Egyptian Literature, Part IX
by Ed Rizkalla
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” Psalm 111.10
(رأس الحكمة مخافة اللة)
As the writer was a child growing up in Egypt, it was common to respectfully address a Muslim as (الشيخ) which means “Elder”, and a Copt as (المعلم), which means “Teacher”. Perhaps addressing a Copt as a “Teacher” shouldn’t come as a surprise, as some historians e.g. the Arab historian Al-Maqrizi (1) noted that the Copts were in fact (اهل علم) people of knowledge. Likewise, Coptic businessmen or employees were known to be (حقانين) which means people who conduct their business with diligence and strive for perfection and excellence. In prior articles of this series, the writer explored several examples from ancient Egyptian literature to help shed light on several Coptic cultural attributes, norms, and values. In this posting, the writer, with the grace of Christ the Lord, will present another example of ancient Egyptian literature, the “Satirical Letter of Papyrus Anastasi I“, to shed light on two Coptic cultural attributes 1) the respect for education, knowledge, and love of wisdom, and more specifically on their predisposition to strive for excellence, and 2) the joy
of life.

See full article via U.S. Copts association -

New Coptic Newsletter on the horizon

Coming soon - to a home near you!

All being well - inshallah - in the coming weeks I hope to organise a new online version of a Coptic newsletter - bringing news, views from around the Coptic world - including;
Coptic culture - archaeology - history art and architecture.
I also hope to bring news from the monasteries - recent conservation work and news etc

All contributions in the form of news, articles and photographs are welcome.
Please email me direct to;

More information as and when this develops

Dr Gawdat Gabra interview

While you are waiting eagerly for Coptic news from around the world, don't forget I have two interviews for you to watch - one interview I had with the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Desert Fathers, and a more recent interview with myself and the reknowned Coptologist Dr Gawdat Gabra.
Go to our website and click on the releative photographs for each interview


Friday, 16 January 2009

Coptic Church to Nominate Pope Shenouda for Nobel Peace Prize

By Amr Bayoumi 13/ 1/ 2009
The Egyptian Orthodox Church welcomed a proposal by the expatriate Copts to nominate Pope Shenouda III for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Yet the Secular Copts Front said it would be difficult due to the political inclinations that determine who would get the prize.Bishop of Helwan and Maasara Rev. Basenti said Pope Shenouda has contributed to peace in Egypt, the Middle East and the whole world, stressing that the Pope is quite qualified for the prize and that he received honorary doctorate degrees for peace from many universities around the world.�He said the Holy Synod did not discuss the proposal with the Pope, but all its members are for it.

Read full article here;

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Happy Coptic Christmas

To all of you in Egypt and those following the Coptic tradition around the world, may I offer you all a Happy Coptic Christmas for January 7th - you may now prepare for having a good feed!

The midnight mass will be held at St. Mark's Cathedral Abyssia Cairo Wednesday 7th January

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Coptic Christmas

Just a reminder to all readers that the Coptic Christmas falls on January 7th - May you all have a peaceful and healthy one

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Government uses brothers as scapegoat in murder;
officials claim violence not sectarian.
December 1 (Compass Direct News) - Two Coptic Christians wrongfully arrested for killing a Muslim during the May 31 attack on Abu Fana monastery in Egypt have been tortured and sent to a detention camp so authorities could try to extract a false confession, their lawyer said.Egyptian authorities sent brothers Refaat and Ibrahim Fawzy Abdo to El Wadi El Gadid Detention Camp near the Egypt-Sudan border on Nov. 22. A week earlier they were bailed out pending their court case - but never released - and held in a Mallawi police station until their transfer to the camp.
The inauguration of the The Coptic Culture Centre and St Mark Public Library - Abyssia Cairo

Friday 14 November saw Pope Shenouda III inaugurate the first phase of the project of the Coptic Orthodox Culture Centre and the Saint Mark Public Library in Anba Rweiss grounds in Abbasiya, Cairo.The story of the centre began long before, though, with the pope issuing a decree on 14 November 2000-14 November is the anniversary of the seating of Pope Shenouda III-for the establishment of a Coptic cultural centre and library. Now the eight-storey building has been completed and the project is on to a fine start.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Church of St Mark of Alexandria

There is a very interesting article on the US Copts website on the Church of St Mark in Alexandria - go to the following link to read the full article-

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Friends of the Coptic Museum Cairo

For those of you out there who are unaware, the Cairo Coptic museum - recently re-opened after a long closure - has a 'Friends of' association. The second and most recent newsletter has just been produced, and you may access their site here:

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Pope Shenouda III now back in Cairo

Pope Shenouda Receives State VIPs and the US Ambassador
By Amr Bayoumi 23/ 10/ 2008
Orthodox Pope Shenouda III received on Tuesday evening some State officials, ministers, governors, political personalities and editors in chief.
They went to the Pope’s residence at the Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo to congratulate him on his return to Egypt after a 4-month treatment trip to the US.The delegation included, among others, the Speakers of the People’s Assembly and the Shoura Council, some ministers and the US Ambassador to Egypt.
The chairman of the Church’s media committee, Bishop Mark, denied rumors that the US ambassador talked to the Pope about some sectarian incidents which happened during his absence and about the imprisonment of a priest for five years on charges of forgery.
Bishop Mark stressed the visits only aimed to welcome the Pope back.
“Even the Holy Synod has not decided yet when it will hold its next session, as we are now focusing on the Pope’s health and celebrating his return” he said.
The Vice-Chairman of the Milli [Confessional] General Committee Tharwat Bassili confirmed the bishop’s words saying: “The Pope and the delegation just had some good time.”

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Islamic extremists published a call for jihad against monasteries of Wadi-El-Natrun

I was in fact at Wadi natrun last saturday and saw no evidence of the below

Monday, September 15, 2008

Muslim Extremists Call for Violence against Christian Monasteries in Egypt
O people of Islam come to martyrdom in Ramadan…the month of repentance and forgiveness Groups of Islamic extremists have published a call for jihad against the monasteries of Wadi-El-Natrun on their websites.Their call comes soon after the rumor spread by the prominent Islamic figure Dr. Zaghloul El Naggar claiming that a Christian convert to Islam has been detained in a Wadi-El-Natrun monastery and subsequently murdered by the Coptic church after refusing to denounce Islam. It is worth noting that the woman in question had declared four years ago that she never converted to Islam and that she was “born a Christian and will die a Christian” El Naggar made his accusation in an interview with Egyptian newspaper “Al-Khamis” and failed to provide any evidence to support his claims. Unfortunately this isn’t the first instance where Dr. El Naggar makes unsubstantiated accusations against the church and Christian community of Egypt. Last year he claimed that the church is secretly proselytizing to Muslims and converting them to Christianity in large numbers. He also claimed that he knows of the hideouts where these christenings take place and that he has documentations to support his claims. To this date he has not provided any evidence to support either claim. It seems that there is no need for providing evidence to incite extremists to demand revenge especially during the month of Ramadan “the month of repentance and forgiveness” according to the extremist website. The emotive call to jihad is demanding of Muslims to wake up and strike the infidel Jews and Christians with a fist of iron. As well as blowing up the monasteries of the “murderous Christians” and reducing them to ashes, they are demanding Egyptian Muslims rise up and attack the Israeli embassy and also the building that houses the office of State Security

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Expatriate Copts Denounce Egypt to International Organizations because of Abou Fana Monastery

20 expatriate Coptic organizations called on the international community to investigate immediately into Abou Fana incidents. A statement posted on the Internet and signed by many of these organizations says that this call is due to the threats that these incidents pose on international peace and security.
The statement also demands that Copts’ rights in general and Abou Fana monastery in particular not to be dealt with through informal meetings.According to the statement, the Holy Synod has made six claims, namely: releasing all Copts being detained unjustly; arresting the assaulters who have been reported and taking legal measures against them so that these people and others may be prevented from carrying out new assaults that jeopardize social peace in Egypt; providing the truth about the incident (regarding the assaulters’ agreement to commit the crime)
and all the details of the repeated assaults on the monastery monks and their possessions; building the entire wall of the monastery under State’s supervision and surveillance so that other assaults may be avoided in the future.
The Synod also calls for this wall to include the archaeological sanctuary, the farm, the graveyard and the isolated cells and demands compensation to the monastery for the damages and robbery it has suffered.
The statement calls on concerned parties to hold on to the law and its international criteria based on respect for human rights and not on informal meetings that do not suit a civilized State like Egypt.