In January 2002, Anba Morqos, Bishop of Shubral-Kheima, purchased a 1351-square-metre plot of land for the construction of a church and a building to house the social service activities the church planned to offer to some 400 families who lived in the
In the meantime, the bishopric applied to the State Security Apparatus in March 2003 for a licence to build the church and the social services building. Attached to the application were the structural drawings of the project. Months passed without any reply and, to every enquiry by the bishopric the State security officials would say that the application was still pending investigation. The bishopric was never informed that the application was rejected or that its papers were incomplete. Worth noting is that, in November 2004, Subral-Kheima bishopric re-applied for the licence, attaching a new set of approvals, since the local security apparatus had got a new director who then asked for recent approvals. In March 2007, the bishopric was informed that the Interior Ministry rejected the application.
In May 2008 the Subral-Kheima bishopric filed a new application for licence to build on its land. To date the application is pending security approval.
True to their word
Until last Monday the land remained vacant. Father Pimen Shaker of the church of Mar-Girgis and Anba Abra’am in the neighbouring village told Watani that on Tuesday morning a member of the congregation called us and informed us that, during the previous night, a man called Sobhy Sweilam had set up a fence around the land and built a hut inside, claiming the land was his property.” Sweilam was a member of the family from whom Shubral-Kheima bishopric had bought the land in 2002—the land was part of a legacy the family had inherited. The bishopric contacted the security apparatus but, when they sensed that response was not prompt enough, some 2000 of the Copts of Mit-Nama headed to St Mark’s cathedral in Abbasiya, Cairo, which is also the papal seat, and demonstrated demanding that Pope Shenouda III should contact the relevant authorities and bring back their land.
Anba Morqos in the meantime was in contact with the local politicians and security officials who finally promised that the fence and hut built illegally by Sweilam would be removed and the land handed to the bishopric at 10:00am the next day, Thursday.
True to their word, a squad dispatched Shubral-Kheima town authority headed to the site on Thursday morning, demolished the illegal buildings and handed the land over to the bishopric.
“It now remains for the bishopric to be granted licence to build a fencing wall around the land to protect it until the application for the building of the social services centre is approved, Fr Pimen said.
Anba Morqos said that while in 2002 there were 400 Christian families in Mit-Nama, there are today 800 families. They are served by the church of Mar-Girgis and Anba Abra’am in the village of Mantai, which already serves some 1200 families of the village congregation. Hence the dire need for a new church. As for the services building, it should be of benefit to all the population of Mit-Nama since its healthcare, education, or social services will be offered to Muslims and Christians alike.
9 November 2008