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Coptic Christian icon saved from being smuggled at Cairo airport

'Thief' reportedly tried to get rid of the Coptic icon of Mary and Jesus when he realised customs would check his bag

Nevine El-Aref , Monday 12 Aug 2013
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An Egyptian was arrested allegedly trying to smuggle a wooden Coptic Christian icon at the Cairo International Airport.

Airport police refused to reveal the person's identity before furthering investigations.

The suspect was allegedly smuggling the icon to sell it on the antiquities black market abroad but realising customs would look into his luggage before boarding, he tried to get rid of the icon.

The police called the airport's archaeological unit to investigate, who confirmed the relic's authenticity.

The icon is of carved wood and depicts Virgin Mary standing before Jesus' corpse and a bird spreading its wings with a cross hung around its neck.

On the other side, the icon depicts Jesus as a child wearing a crown and at the far end of the scene appears a saint wearing a black garb. The icon is also inscribed with text in Latin letters, according to the descriptions by Minister of State of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim.

The icon is now in custody until investigations are completed and will be transferred to the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo for restoration and put on display.

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