Clashes between pilgrims, monks at Deir Al-Sultan in Jerusalem after attempts to place Ethiopian flag on monastery



Thu, 29 Apr 2021 - 10:11 GMT


Thu, 29 Apr 2021 - 10:11 GMT


CAIRO – 29 April 2021: Clashes broke out between Ethiopian pilgrims and Egyptian Coptic monks at the Monastery of the Sultan located in Jerusalem, Thursday.

The Monastery of the Sultan or [Deir Al-Sultan] located on the roof of Helena Chapel in Jerusalem is affiliated to the Egyptian Orthodox Church; however Ethiopian pilgrims were insisting on placing the Ethiopian flag on the monastery.


The unjustified behavior of Ethiopian pilgrims angered the Monastery priests who held a sit-in in front of the Monastery and contacted with police forces and officials to interfere correcting the situation.


The behavior was considered ‘provocative’ by the Monastery’s monks as it coincides with the Holy Week celebrations which usually wittiness which arrival of thousands of pilgrims to Jerusalem.



Deir Al-Sultan is considered to be one of the most important historical sites for the Copts.

The monastery witnessed a long-term dispute over its ownership between the Egyptian Orthodox Church and its Ethiopian counterpart.




In a statement for the Egyption Orthodox Church in 2018, it affirmed that the monastery has been affiliated with it historically since before the 12th century. However, after hosting several Ethiopian monks by the Monastery in the 17th century due to problems with paying taxes to the state they [monks] started making disputes over the Monastery ownership.

This dispute continued until the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, ruled to return of the keys of the church to Egyption Copts, on March 16, 1971




Sami Wakela, manger of Me Sat channel office in Jerusalem which is affiliated with the Coptic Orthodox Church said in statements that the Ethiopians placed their flag on the Monastery.

“This action angered the monks who reached out for the Israeli police forces to help them, but they didn’t” Wakela added. He explained that no violent clashes took place between the two sides.

He said that these acts are more related to ‘political interests’ more than any historical or religious issues. “The Israeli forces are refusing to take any actions against the Ethiopians despite their aggression. There is no government to help us or to give us back our right” Wakela said.

He further explained that the Egyption Coptic Orthodox Church has a ruling from the International Court of Justice, proves the Egyption right of the Monastery’s ownership, but the Israeli government refuses to implement it.

Bishop Atallah Hanna of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem condemned all of the ‘Ethipoian provokes’ taking place at Deir Al-Sultan. He added that these kinds of breaches have political motives.

He called on the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to stop these actions especially during the holly week celebrations.

He accounted the Ethiopian Orthodox Church responsibility for the breaches taking place in the Monastery.




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