Egyptian churches tighten security to resume normal activity

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Thu, 03 Aug 2017 - 11:33 GMT

Helioplis Evangelic church - Photo courtesy of Evangalic church facebook page

Helioplis Evangelic church - Photo courtesy of Evangalic church facebook page

CAIRO – 3 August 2017: After years of devastating blows to the Christian community in Egypt, churches have responded to stricter security measures to protect church-goers and attempt to resume normal activities, such as conferences and trips.

The Cathedral of St. Markia in Abbasia now requires entrants into the church to show their national ID at the door to ascertain their Christian identities while people with other religious identities must leave their ID with the church’s administrative security until their departure. Vehicles are no longer allowed to enter church grounds, under any circumstances.

The Coptic Church, which is considered a shrine for many Copts after nearly 30 martyrs were killed last year, hung a banner in which it apologized for receiving visitors only on official occasions or weddings. The bride and the groom would have to leave the names of their guests at the door to be let in by the security.

In another context, the Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki, head of the

Evangelical community in Egypt

, revealed the return of Christian trips and conferences again, after the churches decided to stop them until the end of July as a precautionary measure.

Zaki told Egypt Today that the community had informed the heads of the 18 schools affiliated with the decision to stop trips and conferences last month, but the conference houses have resumed activity again.

Annaba, the Bishop of Asyut, announced that the celebrations of the Monastery of the Virgin at Mount Dronka with the journey of the Holy Family to the monastery will begin, from 7 to 21 August, amid tight security.

Annaba said in his last weekly sermon that the festive season for the Virgin Mary in Mount Asyut will not stop, and the monastery will open its doors to receive visitors, worshipers and expatriates from all over Egypt and the rest of the world.

"We are working to provide 20 buses, minibuses for elderly and sick people to the holy site, and 17 electronic gates will be installed at the beginning of the road for security support," he said, stressing that the public and private cars are not allowed to climb up the ascending road leading to the church in the mountain or the rest stops.

The ceremony begins with the departure of deacons (appointed ministers) from the Church of the Grotto, carrying a large icon of the Virgin Mary while children dressed in the white ministers’ clothing walk in front. Thousands of Christians, Muslims, and other nationalities visit the monastery and the chapel in the heart of the mountain during the birth of the Virgin, in order to promote religious tourism.

However, the spokesman of the Coptic Church, Pastor Paul Halim, said that it is inappropriate to organize such events in the current security conditions.

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