A hundred Copts defy late pope's travel ban on Jerusalem pilgrimage

Ahram Online , Friday 6 Apr 2012

Over 100 Copts board planes on Friday to Israel in contravention to the ban placed by the late Pope Shenouda III, who was known as the 'Arabs' Pope' for his anti-Zionist convictions

A photo of the Christian landmarks in Jerusalem. (Photo: Ahram Online)

More than one hundred Egyptian Copts took a charter Air Sinai flight from Cairo to Jerusalem on Friday, despite the ban that the late Pope Shenouda III had placed in the 1970s on travel to Israeli-occupied Palestinian land.

An official source at Cairo International Airport said that the air bridge signifies an unprecedented move since the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, pointing out that roughly two daily trips are planned to transfer pilgrims to visit landmarks in the holy land.

The source added that two flights left today, Friday, carrying 104 passengers.

The step comes in the wake of the death in March of the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, known as the "Arabs' Pope." In an anti-Zionist stance, he issued a papal decree prohibiting Copts from travelling to Israel (even for pilgrimage), in solidarity with Palestinians over the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem.

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