• 15:44
  • Wednesday ,31 October 2018
العربية

A conflict of centuries

Article Of The Day

00:10

Wednesday ,31 October 2018

A conflict of centuries

During the last week of October 2018, Deir al-Sultan Coptic monastery in Jerusalem witnessed protests by clergy and congregation of the Coptic Orthodox Church led to the arrest of one of the monks by the Israeli authorities. The protests came against the Israeli authorities that seized the monastery and handed it over to the Ethiopian Church. This time, the protest came against the attempts of the Israeli authorities to restore the monastery without reference to the Coptic Church, which owns the monastery. Moreover, the Israeli forces refused to give permission to the Coptic Church to restore the monastery. In fact, this was only an episode of a long series of conflict that lasted for centuries.

The Coptic Church has owned the monastery for centuries. It is said that the monastery was given a gift to the Copts by Sultan Abdul Malik bin Marwan. In the twelfth century during the reign of Salah al-Din Ayyubi, who gave it back to the Copts as a reward for their devotion. Hence it was called the Monastery of the Sultan. 
 
In the second half of the seventeenth century the Ethiopian monks asked the Coptic Church to allow them to stay temporarily in the monastery until they find another place for them after they had to leave their headquarters because they were unable to pay the high taxes. Yet, the Ethiopian  guests turned into opponents of the Copts after they tried to seize the monastery. This conflict continued during the reign of the Ottoman Caliphate until today. The Ethiopian monks tried several times to seize the monastery, but the Coptic Church was able to restore it every single time.
 
In February 1959, the Ethiopian monks succeeded in persuading the Jordanian official in Jerusalem to take over the monastery and hand it over to them. However, His Holiness Pope Cyril VI sent a delegation to meet with the King of Jordan to present the documents proving the ownership of the Copts to the monastery and the previous decision was suspended by another decree issued on 22 February 1961. 
 
On April 25, 1970, the Israeli authorities sent troops to break into the monastery and hand it over to the Ethiopian monks, and prevented the Copts from entering or even restoring their precious historical possessions. 
 
The Copts filed a lawsuit before the Supreme Israeli Court, which unanimously approved on March 16, 1971, the right of the Copts to own the monastery and to restore the keys to the monastery from the Ethiopian monks. 
 
It is clear that the monastery of Sultan is a true Coptic right, but  the greed of our Ethiopian brothers and the support they received from the Israeli government allowed them to seize it. This support that came to punish the Copts on taking the side of the Palestinians and refusing the normalization of relationships with Israel.
 
The conflict continued despite Israeli judgments in favor of the Coptic Church. When the monks protested peacefully against the Israeli authorities, they were beaten and arrested. I demand the right of the Coptic Church, even though the religion has nothing to do with the case. It is a matter of rights. The crucifix was a key element in Christianity, but this doesn’t mean it was a crime by those who crucified Jesus Christ. People may hate the practices of the Israeli government, but they shouldn’t hate the Israeli people. In all cases, we have to denounce injustice and stand for peace.