CAIRO: Following a long-running negotiations process, on Sunday the Arab tribes and the monks of Abo Fana Monastery signed an agreement, putting an end to sectarian clashes that erupted in the Upper Egyptian city of Mallawi last May.
The monks who were kidnapped and beaten, as well as the father of Khalil Ibrahim Mohamed, a Muslim who was killed during the fights, agreed to drop all charges.
However, despite the fact that the disputing parties were scheduled to go to the prosecution office on Tuesday to officially drop the charges, they didn’t.
In an unconfirmed report, a source told Daily News Egypt that one of the involved parties was in a car accident.
“We’re expecting the attorney general to close the file and release all the detainees in the case, Zakary Kamal, lawyer of the monks of Abo Fana, told Al Badeel newspaper.
The Coptic Church in Minya and the Arab tribes had previously reached an agreement on Aug. 13 regarding the land dispute whereby the Abo Fana Monastery will waive 25 acres of agriculture 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 on a wall to be built marking the monastery’s land and for the people involved in the clashes to be subjected to trial without any appeal to civil society councils. Pope Shenouda, who is scheduled to arrive in Cairo on Oct. 20, approved the land settlement while he is away for medical treatment in the United States.
However in the criminal matter he refused to reach an agreement, wanting to leave the matter for the court to decide.
“As a representative of Pope Shenouda III, we refuse any truce in the criminal matter and we are leaving it in the hands of the judicial system, Eid Labib, member of the arbitration committee previously told Daily News Egypt.
On the other hand, a week ago when the parties were scheduled to sign the agreement, the Arab tribes involved refused to sign, saying that by signing it they will be publicly admitting that the people currently in prison are really responsible for the violent clashes that took place last May.
At the end of May clashes over land surrounding the Abo Fana Monastery in 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 ownership of the land surrounding the monastery.