A picture of Copts holding funerary prayers over the body of a deceased man in the village of Bir Shams in Bagour, Menoufiya was recently circulated by media and social networks. The picture caught the attention of many, especially in the wake of the the incident in the Minya village of al-Furn’s where the local political and security authorities denied Copts access to their church under the pretext of it’s being unlicensed and thus provoked the village’s Muslims. Al-Furn Copts thus resorted to holding prayers in the street; the celebrated Holy Mass on the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin last 22 August in a street that lay in the Coptic neighborhood of the village. [http://en.wataninet.com/
Thus when pictures of Bir Shams Copts were seen, it was assumed that this was another incident of security denying Copts access to their church.
A source from the Bishopric of Menoufiya, however, explained to Watani that there was no church in Bir Shams in the first place, and that Copts have for long been holding their prayers in a small guest house where they have installed a makeshift altar. “A few days ago one of the village Copts died, and seeing that he was very popular among the villagers and the mourners were too many to be accommodated in the house church, so a marquee was set up in the street for them,” the source said.
He also explained that the bishopric has officially applied to the relevant authorities for license to build a church on a plot of land that it owns, to serve Bir Shams’s 70 Coptic [extended] families that make some 400 individuals. Another option was to use a three-storey-building, also owned by the bishopric, for worship. The authorities have promised to look into the demand submitted by the bishopric, especially that the nearest church is 5km away in the village of Behnay, the source said.
31 August 2017