Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth [i.e. Islam] among the people of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Sura 9:29)
BEDOUINS ATTACK AND LEVY A TAX ON ST. CATHERINE'S MONASTERY ON SINAI
Pravoslavie — October 14, 2014
The most ancient St. Catherine’s (Katherine’s) Orthodox Monastery situated on the Biblical land of Sinai peninsula has been once again persecuted by Muslim extremists and local authorities, reports the Linga news portal with the reference to Copts Today.
For today Arab islamists, who lead a seminomadic way of life in the Sinai desert, pose the main threat to lives of the monks and condition of the monument of the world architecture.
Specifically, Dr. Iyhab Ramzy, a prominent lawyer, related the following details of the crimes committed by the extremists against the monastery and its monks, to the journalists:
“Recently some residents of Tala district attempted to take the monastery by storm—and eventually they managed to demolish the gate and took two monks hostage. The monks had to submit to the raiders and agreed to pay them a tax in exchange for end to the attacks. Nevertheless, the islamists are still threatening all the clergymen and monks with violence, this time because of the monastery territory that they claim had been illegally occupied”.
The lawyer stresses that in spite of the numerous complaints and appeals the law-enforcement agencies did not react to the existing situation at all, remaining outsiders and, in fact, accomplices of the above-mentioned offences. “The only pseudo-juridical instance in the desert is the Arab tribes’ court that has levied a tax of 150,000 Egyptian pounds (about 21,000 USD) on the monks,” notes the expert.
However, according to the lawyer, “the oddities in behavior of the authorities” are not confined to this.
According to the evidence of Ramzy, local autonomous bodies close their eyes on the extremists’ calls to obliterate Christianity on Sinai and “to restore justice”, which means returning the Christian settlement Oyun Musa (“Moses springs”) to Muslims” with the reference to the Quranic texts.
“Against the background of all this lawlessness not only are the local officials sitting idle and doing nothing—they are even aggravating the existing situation,” Dr. Iyhab continues. “For example, not long ago the authorities imposed a certain tax upon absolutely all the monastery’s monks. It was done because the monastery had a refectory for pilgrims, which allegedly “served as a source of enrichment.” For the first time in Egyptian history, such a decision was made towards the ascetics who never leave the house of prayer! Ramzy has regarded the actions of the respective agencies as “an attempt to annihilate Christianity in the region,” concluding: “All this leads to the physical destruction of the monastery as such”.
In his interview with the website, a monk from St. Catherine’s Monastery, Hieromonk Gregory, related a more striking demarche of the “Ikhwan” (“of Muslim brotherhood”) authorities against the monastery and its brothers:
“While still under president Morsi, a retired colonel named Ahmad Radjai Atiye brought an action against the monastery. In it he accused us of ‘encroachments on state land’. It was found that we had ‘illegally constructed’ in 2006 many monastery churches, which in reality date to the time of the Holy Emperor Justinian I (527-565)!
“The local government, dependent on “the Muslim Brothers”, issued 71 decrees for the demolition of the fourth-century’s churches, giving Atiye’s action a chance to get ahead; and so already at the highest level the indictment confirmed the claimant’s lie”.
The clergyman also noted that hearing of this case would take place in November, asking all Orthodox brothers and sisters “to pray hard for preservation of the shrine common to all Christians, the true gem of the peninsula”.