June 16th, 2008 by Editor
Abu Fana monastery …. What happened?
Abu Fana monastery witnessed a verbal altercation between a group of clerics at the monastery and a number of residents in the area concerning the right to possess a plot of lands adjacent to the monastery .Differences of point of views evolved among the disputed parties until it reached the exchange of fire bullets and using batons the matter which led to the death of “Khalil Ibrahim Mohammed” ,citizen , and the injury of others and the arrest of 19 persons who were accused of committing a number of charges according to the police record
as follows :
-Attempting to murder with others.
-Abduction associated with abuse with others
-Possessing firearms and ammunition without a license.
-Injuring persons with firearms.
– Attacking places of worship.
-Firing an agricultural tractor.
-firing buildings of Abu Fana monastery with others .
– Confining and kidnapping three men from the monastery.
– Impairing Abu Fana monastery and crops .
-Killing citizen ” Khalil Ibrahim”.
EOHR sent a fact finding mission to clarify the matter in the light of the escalated situation and the violation committed against the right to life ,freedom and personal safety which were guaranteed in accordance with the Egyptian Constitution and the international covenants concerned with human rights .
The historical description of Abu Fana monastery :
Abu Fana monastery locates at Malwi center about 30 K.M south of Al Menya governorate and about 30 K.M north of the small city of Malwi on the same latitude of Saint Catherine monastery in Sinai .The monastery is close to the eastern side of Libyan desert and near the village of Bani Khaled . The monastery was one day located directly at the edge of the desert but due to weather conditions and changes the Sahara had encroached slightly, to the east in the direction of the Nile.
The monastery date is back to the sixth century and registered among the Islamic and Coptic remnants according to Ministerial decision No. 10357 in 1951.
Second: live testimonies
EOHR fact finding mission met some clergymen of the church and a number of residents in the region and heard their testimonies , as follows :
• Ibrahim Mohamed Essa (father of the deceased):
” My name is Ibrahim Mohamed Essa ,I’m 61 years old and worked as a peasant , my son , Ibrahim, is 35-years old ,he has a Diploma of the industrial secondary school and worked at a poultry farm . We were 3 K.M from the monastery at the farm where a dispute was set near it .We were surprised by fire shot released near the west side and lasted for 2 hours .My son went to clarify the situation and I tried to prevent him and told him to return back . I surprised by an agricultural tractor carries 3 armed men went towards us . I told my son to return back quickly as this tractor pursued us . My son tried to go back but he was fired from about 50 meters by one from the armed men .The bullet penetrated his back and came out from his chest then I lost my consciousness . There is some one called ( Sheikh Samir loaloa)came with semi -lorry and took my son to the hospital . In the next day ,I received a call at 9:00 AM as I informed that my son need to see me . When I went to the hospital , I had found my son departed .On the funeral , there was a police car and an officer from Malwi center and arrested someone I ignore him” .
· Abdullah Samir
” On Saturday at 4:00 pm a group of people were working in their land when they surprised by people from the monastery take hold of the land about 30 K.M from the monastery , this plot of land belongs to the residents by a decision issued by the court . A verbal altercation occurred between people of the monastery and a number of residents the matter which one of the monastery men apologize for the residents ,but one of the monks called Bakhoum intervene and said that the land has belonged to us since the seventeenth-century and possessed by our grandfathers despite the fact that the main way to the monastery pass through the land of residents who always support the monastery with their needs without problems .When Bakhoum said his speech mentioned a quarrel occurred between the two parties until a tractor came carry a man called Refaat Abu Galila with other two persons shot Ibrahim from his back then police came at 7:00 pm after the quarrel about 1-2 hours .
• Samir Loaloa:
” I was at a funeral about 6 K.M away from the events ,after the funeral , I went to the police station to submit a report against some one took my money .When I was at the police station , a report was submitted concerning a quarrel occurred near Abu Fana monastery .I got worried as I have a land beside the monastery and there was a previous dispute between me and the monastery . I went there and I found my sister who informed me that there is shooting .I have received a call from some one called “Khalil” who told me that my son will die , then I went to transfer him to the hospital where he died as soon as he reached it . I hid the secret of the death to prevent the sectarian tension that may be occurred due to the death as I asked the guards not to disclose the new of the death until the situation becomes calm .I went to the village and I received a call from the mother of the dead and I told here that her son is good and entered the Operation Room and I will go to bring a blood packet from the governorate . Rumors were prevailed that there are abducted clergymen .At 1:00 am I was surprised by a call from unknown who asked me to tell the truth about the dead man but I didn’t declare it to prevent further tensions . Also after half an hour I received a call from unknown person called Hossam ,officer, as he asked me to tell him the truth and cooperate with him in order not to harm me . I received a call again from the member of local council who informed me that there are three abducted clergymen .He asked me to search for them . I began to move randomly until I arrived at a farm as I heard someone says ” where are you going ” as he warned me from both two parties , then after 10 minutes I heard a voice said that ” You came to release them so we wait you to see if our son died , we would kill one of them ” .I told him that “Khalil ” is ok ,then he directed me to the place where I found two shabby monks ,I helped them to go out from a backward way with my car to my house where they stay for a little while and we went to the police station where I delivered them . The police station called me to search for another one who was with them . I found him near the monastery but I afraid to come near as there were monks carry weapons .
· Mina Afafini:
” On Saturday 5:00 pm , 60 armed persons attacked Abu Fana monastery farm and abuse clerics during their work in the farm as 4 persons were injured .I was at the monastery when I had heard shooting and found about 60 persons from area residents carry sticks and weapons .They assaulted clerics who were working and they forced the driver of digger to destroy places of worship ( Kalalis ) . The quarrel lasted for 5 hours and police came at the end with a box car as they did nothing .
· Shonoda Afafini :
” On Saturday 5:00 pm , when I had irrigated the farm of the monastery , I heard shooting . I went with pope Bakhoum with the tractor to clarify the situation . When we had come near to the place of shooting , I saw a lot of residents carry weapons . I got out of the tractor to inform the pope of the monastery . when I was calling , I found pope Bakhoum went towards the crowd with the tractor as People fell down pope Bakhoum from the tractor and beat him with sticks and legs and some one shot him in his leg . I escaped from the area as there is shooting towards me and I found 4 “Kalali” ( places for worship ) in flames . At 6:00 pm we called the first Aid in Malwi but we waited until 7:00 pm until a police car with one officer and 4 soldiers came slowly towards the scene of events . we tried to tell the officer about the armed men but he ignored our indications . We took a semi – lorry car to transfer brother “Michael” and brother “Souras” to Malwi hospital .We stayed there up to 2 hours waiting for someone to examine them with no avail . I went to the headquarter of the first aid in the hospital to inform them that there is another injured person with them but they didn’t respond .we were transferred to Al Menya hospital where we found a number of security forces who mistreated us and prevent families to see their patients who received the treatment and transferred to Cairo . After we had gone back to the monastery , we knew that there are three monks abducted during the quarrel and treated badly until they released and transferred to the hospital .
· Maher Bolis Dawoud :
On Saturday at about 5:30 pm I was driving a tractor towards workers who build a wall of the monastery farm . Suddenly I heard shooting released towards the digger and towards pope Yo’nous and pope miksioms . I took the tractor and went to the place of crowd to find a lot of people gathered around the digger .They released fire towards the tractor whose tires and fuel tank were affected . They got me down under arms and they were 15 persons beside other persons distributed along the wall of the farm .These persons vandalized the plants and destroyed the farm and there is someone among them called Mahmoud Abdul Rasool . I tried to speak to these persons but someone holds a stick hit me on my back and he asked others to tied me and pope Yo’nous . We were forced to leave the farm as we were transferred to an area full with trees .We moved among four armed persons for 150 M until they tied us in the tree .they took Mobile phone , a watch and 1500 L.E and they took a mobile and watch from pope Yo’nous and 3000L.E , watch and mobile phone from pope Miksimos . We were beaten savagery with sticks until they took us to a crossroad about 500 m away from the monastery , then they hit me again with sticks on my back .Pope Yo’nous was subjected to a severe torture and they threw us on the ground and they set their feet on us and they brought a rope and tied us in the tree until 2:00 am . We heard them saying that the man who died is not a victim of the monks , then someone called Sheikh Samir came and release us from their hands as he took us to his house where police men came and took us to the police station to write a report of abduction and torture , then we have been transferred to Dir Moas hospital then to Al Menya hospital .
· Fini Afafini:
On Saturday when I had walked at the farm , I surprised by two armed men insulting and beating me aggressively and left me ,then I heard shooting , so we ran towards the source of fire to see about 7 persons with weapons targeted us ( me and pope Ghabrial and Aghabious ). We ran to “Bishouy farm ” where we found about 15 armed persons .We concealed inside a room where we watched a smoke rise from the drainage nets store .After 5 minutes we found that they fired a church belongs to the monks besides setting fire on 6 places of worships ( Kalalis ) . We found a gain about 6 armed persons emerged from hills as they released fire towards us and brother Michael was injured in his left shoulder and left arm and when we went to the monastery we found brother ” Souras” was attacked and injured with fire bullet in his right forearm and two bullets in his knee ,then we were transferred to the hospital .
Third: The vision of the Egyptian Organization For Human Rights
According to civil law No. 131 – 1948, we find that Article 870 states that ” Taking hold of land property which is not belonging to some one became the possession of the holder “and Article 874 paragraph 1 states that “The non – agriculture lands which are not belonging to some one are possessed by government and paragraph 2 stated that ” There is no allowance to posses these lands except after taking a permission from the government according to the regulations , as for paragraph 3 , it stated that “If someone planted a land or build it , the land would be possessed without a previous license from government ,however the owner will lose his possession unless he uses it for 5 years successively during the following fifteen years for possession”.
Through reading the previous texts ,it is clarified that , the Ministry of Culture identified the outer border lines of Abu Fana campus as follows
-From the northern side , 1 kilo meter from the northern wall of the monastery.
-From the southern side, 1 kilo meter from the southern wall of the monastery
From the eastern side, 450 m from the eastern wall of the monastery –
-From the western side ,to the borders of Christian cemetery , So the problem occurred due to the violation of these borders .
In this regard , EOHR confirmed that these events and their sequences are due to a dispute occurred between two parties on a plot of land . There are a set of reasons led to the aggravation and escalation of these events as follows:
–The killing and abduction of three citizens.
— The state of political tension experienced by the Egyptian citizen led to the crisis , as the weak of political institutions and their inability to attract citizens and develop their political awareness lead to the religious intolerance.
— The Lack of democratic climate _ which citizens can express about their problems and exercise their rights normally _ is one of the main reasons leading to ignite tension .Also the absence of democratic climate leads to the disappearance of dialogue culture and discussion and acceptance of others, the matter which affects society with disability .
The Egyptian Organization For Human Rights at the end of its report confirmed that the difference between the views is not a problem intrinsically , but when it becomes a dispute among persons of different religions, the matter then becomes a “crisis” and take various dimensions .
In this regard , EOHR expresses its deepest worries concerning the events of Abu Fana which led to the death of “Khalil Ibrahim,” and the arrest of 19 persons from both parties in a clear violation of the right to life, freedom and personal safety guaranteed by the Constitution and international covenants concerned with Human rights .
EOHR calls the government for adopting a strategy for dealing with such differences and others that arise from time to time particularly among believers of different religions, strategy consists of the following elements:
1 – Establishing a committee for religions affairs includes an official representatives from media, education , Ministry of Religion Endowment , security and representatives from the church, Al-Azhar and civil society organizations . This committee will deal with citizenship and will set a practical solutions to eliminate the consequences of the differences between the different believers of religions that appear from time to time, and any New problems that may arise between them .Also it will deal with the rules for building worship houses rely on a set of standards such as population density and geographical distribution to coincide with the repealing of the law known by “Humayon” Line which comes back to 1856 during the “Ottoman” rule as license is not given to build church or monastery or even a cemetery for any non-Muslim only after taking a permission from the Sultan and a personal license given by him . The case is being continued even after the demise of the “Ottoman Empire” and the license became a king jurisdiction and now became again the prerogative of the President . Also the committee will work on repealing the 10th unfair administrative conditions to build churches which have been valid since 1933 as well as the abolition of Presidential decision No. 13 issued in 1998 for authorizing governors to restore and renew churches because it violates the text of article 40 of the Constitution, which stated the equality of citizens regardless of their origin, Sex, religion or creed as will as Article 46 which stipulated the freedom of belief .
2- Coordinating a governmental, parliamentary and public dialogue concerning citizenship rights including the organizing of specialized workshops in the framework of integrated program cover all aspects . This program will include Radio and Television Media to achieve a wide participation of popular sectors .Also the dialogue includes the preparation of legislations and policies development To strengthen the principle of citizenship .
3- Clerics ( Muslims and Christians ) should renew the religion message to spread the culture of tolerance among all citizens and to reject the fanatic speech and the necessary for each party to respect the religion of other and holding dialogue sessions and discussion permanently between the parties to find out the differences that appear from time to time .
4- Prohibiting the attack against religions in accordance with the terms of human rights related to the freedom of opinion and belief stipulated in the Egyptian Constitution and international covenants of human rights and ratified by the Egyptian government and become an integral part of domestic law in accordance with Article 151 of the Constitution.
The names of arrested individuals:
1- FARAG ABDUL RAHMAN ALY
2- HAROUN ABDUL TAWAB HAROUN
3- AHMED ABDUL SALAM SOLIMAN
4- RADI HAMED SAYED
5- ABDUL BASIT SALIM SALMAN
6- SAID ABDUL HAMID SALMAN
7- AWAD ABDUL SALMAN
8- AID ABDUL HAMID SALMAN
9- IBRAHIM KASIM SALIM
10-FOLY HAMID SAYED
11-KAMEL MOHAMED SHAWAT
12-NAGY ABDUL GAWAD SHAWAT
14-SHAHER SABER SEIF
16-HIBA ABU BAKR ALY
17-AWAD ABDUL HAMID
18-REFAAT FAWZY ABDU ( CHRISTIAN)
19-IBRAHIM FAWZY ABDU(CHRISTIAN)
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This entry was posted on Monday, June 16th, 2008 at 1:48 pm and is filed under Reports, Statements. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.