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Posts Tagged ‘Coptic Orthodox Church’

Egypt’s New Law On Churches Angers Christian Critics

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on August 31, 2016

EgyptianCopts

Egypt’s lawmakers on Tuesday passed the country’s first law spelling out the rules for building a church, a step Christians have long hoped would free up construction that was often blocked by authorities. But angry critics in the community say the law will only enshrine the restrictions.

Church building has for decades been one of the most sensitive sectarian issues in Egypt, where 10 percent of the population of 90 million are Christians but where Muslim hardliners sharply oppose anything they see as undermining what they call the country’s “Islamic character.”

Local authorities often refuse to give building permits for new churches, fearing protests by Muslim ultraconservatives. Faced with refusals, Christians turned to building illegally or setting up churches in other buildings, which in many cases prompted riots and attacks by ultraconservatives. In contrast, building a mosque faces few restrictions.

Christians had hoped that the law would enshrine broad rights to build, encouraged by promises from President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The Christian minority has been among el-Sissi’s staunchest supporters ever since, as army chief, he led the military’s ouster Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 and launched a heavy crackdown on Morsi’s supporters.

But the law left critics, including some Christian lawmakers, embittered, warning that it will maintain Christian’s second-class status. The Coptic Orthodox Church, to which most Egyptian Christians belong, had at first opposed the bill but later backed it — and critics say it bent to heavy government pressure.

Under the law passed Tuesday, Christians must apply to the local provincial governor when they want to build a church.

The law stipulates that the size of the church must be “appropriate” to the number of Christians in the area. According to an official supplement to the law, the governor should also take into account “the preservation of security and public order” when considering the application.

The law “empowers the majority to decide whether the minority has the right to hold their religious practices,” said Ishaq Ibrahim, a top researcher in the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Christian activist and researcher Nader Shukry said the security and order provisions connected to the law still mean authorities can still use threats of mob violence as an excuse to ban church construction.

What if Salafis protest against the construction of a church, would this prompt the governor to turn down the request, for fear of national security?” he said.

He and other activists also warned that authorities can also limit churches by citing the article that restricts the size of churches according to the size of the local Christian community, because there are no official statistics on the Christian population.

The government has never released an official figure for the Christian population, viewing the statistic as a sensitive national security matter. Activists believe the government doesn’t want to show how large the community actually is.

Youssef Sedhom, the chief editor of the Coptic weekly Watani, wrote Sunday that the law shows the state wants to continue to have “full mandate and monopoly” over the Copts and their churches. The provisions are “vague” and empower local authorities to say “yes, this is allowed” or “no, this is not allowed,” he wrote.

The law does allow churches built without permits in the past to be recognized, if the construction meets regulations and if religious rites have been held there over the past five years.

But critics say that many such churches were shut down by force, so no rites were held, while others were not built according to specifications since they were hastily converted from residential buildings.

Source

Ezekiel29

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Posted in Conspiracies, Faith | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Christian Exorcisms Cast Out Muslim Devils

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on August 22, 2016

On October 31, 2013,   Father Sama'an Ibrahim give an exorcism to Muslims and Christians.

On October 31, 2013, Father Sama’an Ibrahim give an exorcism to Muslims and Christians.

Possessed Egyptian Muslims are turning to Coptic priests to expel their demons the old-fashioned way—through the power of Christ

It’s 6 p.m. in Cairo’s Garbage City slum, and hundreds of people have gathered outside St. Sama’an Cathedral for the evening service. The crowd, which has been building for hours, is waiting patiently for Father Sama’an Ibrahim, the famous Coptic priest and founder of the church. It’s Thursday, which as everyone in Garbage City knows, is exorcism night.

The majority of the people gathered in this packed courtyard are not actually Christian. They’re Muslims who have come in the hopes that Father Sama’an can expel their demons. Groups of women in hijabs huddle together in silence, and every 30 minutes or so, a minibus arrives bearing more pilgrims. As darkness approaches, you can feel the anticipation in the air. One woman lets out a bloodcurdling scream, and two of her friends rush over to quiet her down.

Hamid, an old Muslim man who is uncomfortable giving his surname, sits on a bench, his crutches propped up next to him. “I am here because my body feels like someone is shaking me,” he says. “I want to meet Father Sama’an.” Hamid, like many here, didn’t come by himself. Two young Coptic women from Cairo found him on the side of the road and decided to help him get here. “There are bad spirits that live inside others,” says Vivian, 17, one of the women. She believes Father Sama’an’s abilities “come from God.”

Carved into the rock face of Mokattam Mountain, St. Sama’an Cathedral itself is more like a stadium, with seats that rise up into the sky to form an echoing amphitheater. As the crowd makes its way inside, Arabic hymns start to filter out through the large central entrance tunnel. At around 7 p.m., Father Sama’an, an old, bespectacled man with a flowing gray beard starts making his way across the courtyard to a Mercedes that has pulled up directly in front of the tunnel. This will be is his ride to the altar. The crowd makes a path for him and waves.

His spirit is very powerful,” my translator whispers to me.

On October 31, 2013, Muslim women wait in front of St. Sama'ans Church for the exorcism to start.

On October 31, 2013, Muslim women wait in front of St. Sama’ans Church for the exorcism to start.

Sama’an Ibrahim’s power to heal is the stuff of legend, and when he makes his way to the stage after his big entrance, he does nothing to discourage this perception. “I have raised four people from the dead,” he declares during his sermon. “There were witnesses.” The audience isn’t shocked. They’ve all heard this before.

According to lore, Father Sama’an founded St. Sama’an Cathedral about two decades ago, after a local asked him to come to Garbage City. Once here, the story goes, he found a page from the Biblical book of Acts on the ground, which led him to an ancient cave church amidst the mounds of refuse that give Garbage City its name. He claims the Coptic Pope Shenoda told him it was a divine signal. In the years since, Sama’an has turned the little alcove into the biggest church by capacity in the entire Middle East, complete with Hollywood-caliber camera and lighting equipment.

Everyone here seems to have a story or two to tell of Father Sama’an’s divine connection. Local businessman Edhim says Father Sama’an resurrected him when he was 8 years old; Naroz, 62, who works in another Garbage City church, claims to have seen Father Sama’an breathe life back into a woman who was crushed by a stone. Hundreds more have tales to share about minor infirmities that were healed through his supernatural powers, and it drives people to the church week in and week out.

Egyptian families generally consider exorcisms—in Arabic, ekhrag el shayateen (output of demons)—a very private matter, so it is difficult to determine how many people participate in them throughout the country. However, places like St. Sama’an Cathedral and Father Makary Younan’s St. Mark’s Church—the two major hubs for weekly Coptic exorcisms—are known to attract scores of exorcism seekers from Cairo and the surrounding areas every week.

Additionally, some Muslim sheikhs perform their own form of exorcisms, which generally consist simply of reading the Quran over the “possessed.” Just a few blocks from Father Sama’an’s church, for instance, Sheikh Mahmoud Tahaa, 35, claims to have exorcised many demons. “People come to me when they think they have a devil inside them,” Sheikh Tahaa says. “I know if it’s a devil if it speaks to me.” Asked what a devil sounds like, he says, “They speak no Arabic or English,” but rather a “devil language.” He is, however, quick to add that in many cases, people just “need to go to a doctor.”

There does exist healing by the Quran, and whoever says otherwise is a liar,” Sayyed Attiyah, one of a number of Muslim sheikhs who exorcize in Cairo, recently told Reuters. “If the Quran cannot heal someone, then there is nothing else that can.”

But sometimes one exorcism just doesn’t seem to do the trick.

Ephesians 6 Verse 12

If you are sick, you go to a sheikh,” explains Ahmed Ibrahim Sahim, a 51-year-old Muslim, outside the St. Sama’an. “And if you’re still sick after a reading from the Quran, you go to a Christian.” Ahmed, like so many others here, has made the trip to Garbage City to get Father Sama’an to heal his friend Mustafa Ibrahim, 51, who he thinks is possessed by a demon. Their friend Zakaria Rasheed, 49, a Christian, accompanies them. Mustafa shakes violently and lets out a slight yelp as his friends try to calm him down. Mustafa’s sheikh had tried to exorcise his demon, they say, but had failed, so they’ve come to Father Sama’an as a last resort. They know he’s a powerful man, and if he can’t get the demon out of him, no one can.

In the center of the courtyard, Malik, 21, is burning paper on the stone floor, or what he calls “contracts with the devil,” made by deceptive sheikhs when Muslim women go to them for help from God. Unless these contracts are burned, Malik warns, Father Sama’an can’t help them. (Egypt’s high rate of illiteracy—16 million illiterates in a country of approximately 81 million—could be a contributing factor to these myths.) One Copt later told me these contracts are meant to help one evil spirit vanquish another evil spirit, by becoming bound to their human host, though I wasn’t able to find any precedent for this practice in theological texts.

This particular Thursday is an especially busy day. Scores of people are here for the exorcisms, most of whom are poor-to-middle-class Muslims with nowhere else to turn.

Source

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Posted in Ethiopia, Faith | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Departure of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on March 19, 2012

From St-Takla.org

H. H. Pope Shenouda III, the Coptic Pope of Alexandria and the See of St. Mark #117,

has passed away on March 17, 2012 (Baramhat 8, 1728).  We, at St-Takla.org, bid Him farewell to Heaven with the Saints.. We ask the Lord to comfort His pure soul.  Condolences to the Church and to everyone who loved Him. We are sure that He is interceding to God on our behalf.

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Posted in Ethiopia, Faith | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

 
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