No end in sight for Abo Fana agreement

Safaa Abdoun
4 Min Read

CAIRO: The Abo Fana monastery agreement, which should have been signed on Wednesday, has once again been postponed after the Bishop of Mowas monastery, where it was to be signed, took off on a last-minute trip to Cairo.

This is not the first time the agreement is postponed.

Last Saturday, the Arab tribes involved in the dispute with the monks of Abo Fana monastery in Minya refused to sign the agreement saying that this would be a public admission that those currently held in prison are responsible for the violent clashes that took place last May.

Eid Labib, member of the arbitration committee, told the press at the time that there are two reasons impeding the agreement process.

First, is the fact that the Mallawi archbishop is refusing to pay compensation to the family of Khalil Ibrahim Mohamed, the Muslim man who was killed during the clashes.

The second reason, he said, is that the head of the Arab tribes, Abdel Qader Abel Rehim Abdel Qader, was insisting that the Abo Fana monks change their testimonies.

Things did not go as planned on Tuesday Sept. 9, when celebrations for the end of the Abo Fana dispute between the monks and the Arab tribes were scheduled to be held.

The archbishop of Mallawi had refused to attend the event held at the Mowas Monastery Center. Instead the celebrations were transformed into a ceremony honoring those who had just completed memorizing the Quran as well as top thanawiya amma students in the governorate.

“The celebrations were scheduled for Tuesday but neither Father Demetrious nor I, representative of Pope Shenouda III or any of the monastery’s monks could attend the event especially that our children, whether Christians or Muslims, are still behind bars for this trial..we will celebrate when they trial ends and they are out of prison, Labib said at the time.

The Coptic Church in Minya and the Arab tribes had reached a tentative agreement on Aug. 13 whereby the Abo Fana Monastery will waive 25 acres of agricultural land and 70 acres of non-agricultural land bringing the total land of the monastery to 505 acres instead of an original 600 acres.

In exchange, the Arab tribes agreed to allow the building of a wall marking the monastery’s land and for the people involved in the clashes to be subjected to a trial without recourse to appeal to civil society councils, reported the Middle East News Agency (MENA) at the time.

At the end of May clashes over land surrounding the Abo Fana Monastery, Mallawi, broke out between monks and some 60 Bedouins living in the Qasr Hur village adjacent to the monastery.

The attack was apparently sparked by a wall being built around the monastery. Although the monastery had received official approval for the wall it began building around neighboring property, Muslim residents protested the building of the wall in the surrounding agricultural land claiming it would damage the crops. They also claimed to own the land surrounding the monastery.

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