Local Authorities Attempt to Demolish Memorial to Coptic Martyrs

ICC Note: Local authorities in al-Edwa (Minya Governorate) issued orders to demolish a memorial erected where 28 Coptic Christians were killed while traveling to a monastery in May 2017. Minya’s governor intervened to temporarily halt demolition, but not in time to stop the council from removing a different memorial to the martyrs. This situation further demonstrates that while the President makes public overtures towards the country’s Christians, local authorities continue to actively make life difficult for Christians.

02/18/2018 Egypt (Watani) –  Minya Governor, Essam al-Bedeiwi, intervened to contain a crisis that erupted Monday 12 February in al-Edwa, Minya, some 250km south of Cairo, when al-Edwa town council issued orders to demolish a memorial erected at the spot where 28 Copts had been martyred in a terror attack by Islamists in May 2017. The Copts were shot on their way for pilgrimage to the desert monastery of Anba Samuel al-Muetarrif (St Samuel the Confessor); the attack took place when the vehicles carrying the pilgrims were driving some 12km from the monastery.

The memorial, which was set up by friends of St Samuel’s, constitutes of a plate engraved with the names of the martyrs, centred in a formation of white bricks with a cross at the centre next to the plate.

According to the monk Boulos al-Samueli, al-Edwa city council had removed another memorial set up weeks earlier for the martyrs. “Today [12 February 2018], they attempted to remove this one too,” he told Watani. “But Governor Bedeiwi intervened and ordered a temporary halt to the demolition until he discusses the matter with the town council.

Governor Bedeiwi also promised he would visit St Samuel’s next week when he would look into two requests by the monastery: the first is to allow pilgrimage to the monastery, which was halted for security reasons following the terror attack in May 2017; the second is to allow the monastery to build a church in honour of the martyrs, on the spot of the attack.

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