Egypt charges two Coptic monks with bishop’s murder

In this May 27, 2017 file photo, a priest walks in front of St. Samuel the Confessor Monastery in Maghagha, Egypt. (AP)
Updated 19 August 2018
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Egypt charges two Coptic monks with bishop’s murder

  • Bishop Epiphanius, 68, the head of Saint Macarius monastery, was found dead in late July
  • The bishop’s death has rocked the Coptic Church in Egypt

CAIRO: Egyptian prosecutors on Sunday charged two Coptic monks with murdering a bishop at a desert monastery, in a high-profile case that has shaken the Christian community in the country.
Bishop Epiphanius, 68, the head of Saint Macarius monastery in Wadi el-Natrun, was found dead with a head wound in late July.
Prosecutors accuse monks Wael Al-Saad and Remon Resmi of agreeing to kill the senior cleric over unspecified “differences,” a statement from the attorney general’s office said.
Saad confessed to lying in wait for the bishop as he headed for prayers before hitting him over the head with a metal pipe while Resmi watched on, the statement said.
Prosecutors referred the two monks to trial but no date has been set for the case to be heard.
After the killing Saad, known by his ecclesiastical name Isaiah, was expelled from the Church and attempted to commit suicide.
The bishop’s death has rocked the Coptic Church in Egypt, the largest Christian community in the Middle East.
Following the incident, the Church announced a series of restrictive measures related to the activities of monks.
It said it was stopping accepting new monks for a year and gave current monks a month to disable all of their social media accounts.
Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II also closed his official Facebook page.
The moves pointed to the existence of rifts within the church that some have tied to the bishop’s murder.
Church authorities have remained largely silent on the matter.
Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population of some 100 million.


Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

A firefighting aircraft flies over a forest near Kibbutz Harel, which was damaged by wildfires during a record heatwave, in Israel May 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2019
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Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Egypt and four European countries sent aircraft to help Israel battle wildfires that have forced the evacuation of some small towns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, as a record heatwave looked set to worsen conditions.
At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that firefighting planes were coming in from Greece, Croatia, Italy and Cyprus.
Egypt, on the orders of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, had also sent two helicopters to assist Israel, Netanyahu told reporters.
The Palestinian Authority and Russia had also offered help, Netanyahu said.
Israel braced for wildfires on Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Israel “really appreciates” the help, Netanyahu said, singling out El-Sisi for sending aid.
“I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Service said blazes in a key corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were mostly under control but difficult weather remained a conflagration risk.
“As of this moment, this (containment) is being done in the best possible way, but the challenge is yet ahead of us given the weather conditions, the winds and the extreme heat,” Netanyahu said.
Some 3,500 residents of small towns in the path of the fires were evacuated on Thursday, officials said. Dozens of homes have burned down.

Evacuations
Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were burned on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country.
Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained “very stressed” about strong winds fanning flames and “spreading fires to other fronts.”
The cause of the fires remains unclear, but they erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.