Coptic Christians make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem
On Friday April 11th about ninety Coptic Christians landed in Tel Aviv with the intention of celebrating Holy Week in Jerusalem and in the Christian Holy Places scattered in Israel. The news, from security sources and relaunched on the Egyptian media, arouses interest in the light of the prohibition confirmed by the then Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Shenouda III who in the years of the Arab-Israeli conflict prohibited the faithful of his Church to make pilgrimages to the Jewish State and had not changed his position even after the normalization of relations between Egypt and Israel wanted by President Sadat. Until today, the prohibition has not been formally revoked by Patriarch Tawadros II, but many observers emphasize its irrelevance in the new framework of relations between the two neighboring nations.
The Coptic pilgrims arrived in Tel Aviv with a Jordanian airline which stopped over in Amman. Blogs and networks animated by Copts have made comparisons between those who fear that the choice of traveling in Israel can be exploited politically by the Jewish state and those who feel that the prohibition distances many Copts from the Holy Places in Jerusalem. To complicate relations between Israel and the Egyptian Coptic Church is the choice made by the Israeli administration that continues to tolerate the occupation of chapels and Coptic places of Jerusalem on behalf of the monks of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, that has been joined to the Coptic Church of Egypt for centuries and became autocephalous only in 1959.