EOHR condemns the Israeli assault on Egyptian Coptic Christian priests in East Jerusalem

October 25th, 2018 by Editor

EOHR condemns the Israeli assault on

 Egyptian Coptic Christian priests in East Jerusalem

On the morning of October 24th, 2018, a group of Coptic Christian priests staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the Deir Al Sultan monastery in Jerusalem to protest unauthorized Israeli renovation of the sight. The priests however were not allowed to exercise their right to peaceful assembly as Israeli law enforcement officials moved to forcefully disperse them and in the process, they violently assaulted the priests and arrested one of them who was later released. The incident drew condemnations from the Egyptian government, Al-Azhar and the Coptic Church.

The dispute over the historical monastery is standing testament of Israeli persecution of the Coptic Church for decades in violation of the right to freedom of religion. Deir Al Sultan monastery belonged to the Coptic Church since the 11th century when it was returned to the Church by decree of Saladin the Sultan of Egypt and Syria after he liberated Jerusalem from Crusader occupation. However, in 1970, 3 years after the 1967 war with Egypt Israeli forces broke into the monastery, expelled the Coptic Egyptian priests, and forcefully transferred it to the Ethiopian Church who had claims over it as well. The Coptic Church spared no effort to reclaim its historical rights and took legal action in Israeli courts, and finally the Supreme Court of Israel ruled in favor of the Coptic Church in 1971; however, the Court’s decision was never implemented.

Israel for nearly 5 decades has persecuted the Coptic Christian Church by denying it it’s historical property in occupied East Jerusalem, and is now resorting to violence to prevent Coptic Christian priests from peacefully protesting this blatant violation of their religious rights.

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) strongly condemns these Israeli practices and demands that Israeli immediately restore the Coptic Church’s ownership of the Deir Al Sultan monastery in compliance with the 1971 ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court and Interntional Human Rights law. EOHR also calls upon the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the competent UN rapporteurs and independent experts to take the necessary measures to hold Israel accountable for its systematic violations of human rights and basic freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territories as the assault on the Coptic priests is but one manifestation of thousands of violations committed with impunity.

From his side Dr. Hafez Abu Seada the president of EOHR reiterated EOHR’s solidarity with the Coptic Church on the matter of Deir Al Sultan monastery, and reaffirmed that freedom of religion must be upheld as a universal value and a basic right that should not be restricted or violated under any circumstances.

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