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Egyptian Copts Contravening Shenouda's Travel Ban to Israel

A snapshot taken during the coptic liturgy of Maundy Thursday in Jerusalem. (photo M.A.B./Cts)

Terrasanta.net - April 12, 2012

Around one hundred Coptic Christians flew from Cairo to Tel Aviv on Monday in contravention of a ban on travel to Israel instituted by the Church's late Patriarch, Pope Shenouda III.

Since last Friday, a number of Air Sinai flights to Israel have ferried large numbers of Egyptian Coptic Christians to the Holy Land, according to the Ahram online news service.

Ahram quoted an official source at Cairo International Airport, who said two flights travelled to Israel Friday carrying 104 passengers. "This is an unprecedented move since the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty," the source said, pointing out that around two daily trips are planned to the Holy Land.

The news follows the death in March of Pope Shenouda III, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church. He issued a papal decree in 1979 prohibiting Copts from travelling to Israel in solidarity with Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

Pilgrimages from Egypt came to a halt after the 1967 Six Day War and, for the next eleven years when Israel was in a state of war with Egypt, pilgrimages continued to be forbidden as a matter of national law and wartime politics – a move condoned by Pope Shenouda III.

Following the Camp David agreement and subsequent peace treaty between Israel and Egypt in 1979, Israeli tourism to Egypt boomed but there was no reciprocal effect on the part of Egyptians. Full story>>

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