Saturday, June 20, 2009

Coptic Church Threatens to File Complaint at Egypt’s Presidency against Qena Governor and Declares it will Boycott Him

By Amr Bayoumi

The Coptic Orthodox Church has threatened to file a complaint at the Presidency of the Republic against Qena Governor Magdy Ayoub, thus escalating its dispute with the only Coptic governor in Egypt. The church has also declared it will boycott him.The Diocese of Naga Hamadi in Qena has stepped up its dispute with the governor after he refused to approve the demolition of the Church of Saint Anthony in Abou Shousha village and its reconstruction, as it caught fire in 2005 and now risks collapsing.According to the diocese, the Church has already been visited by a committee of engineers sent by the governorate, and that committee issued a report stressing the need to demolish the church and rebuild it as it poses a risk to the faithful.
The governor, though, sent another committee chaired by a member of the first one, and the second committee declared it was possible to restore the church rather than demolishing and then rebuilding it.The diocese pointed out that the governorate asked it to pay LE 60,000 to call in a committee of engineers of the National Housing Council in Cairo to inspect the church. Yet later on, the governorate told the diocese that the committee was only advisory and its opinion was not binding for the governorate.
Naga Hamadi Bishop Kirillos has announced he will boycott the governor, and will refuse to meet with him in response to what he called “his clear stubbornness against us and his standing against all the projects of the Church”.
Kirillos said: “The governor’s actions prove he is fighting us and is just devoting himself to complaining that we’re tarnishing his image, and that we’re seeking to foil the project he has started working on. Indeed, if he was a Muslim Brotherhood member he would sympathize with us.”
He accused Ayub of trying to defend his post regardless of the people’s interests in the governorate.
“We miss former governor Adel Labib, as he always took into account the interests of the governorate, while Ayub cannot sign anything without consulting the security services first,” he said.
Kirillos called for a public meeting attended by a committee from outside the governorate to act as an arbitrator between the Church and the governor. However, he ruled out that Ayub could attend such meeting or face the Church.

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