The congregation of al-Malaak Mikhail and Anba Antonius (St Michael and St Anthony) church in Diyabiya, Wasta, in Beni Sweif 100km south of Cairo, has been reduced to worshipping and holding services in the church courtyard since the dilapidated church building has become life threatening. The most recent service held there has been the wedding ceremony of Amir Bibawi and Mirna Anis, over which Fr Rizqallah presided last evening despite the cold weather.
Father Rizqallah Gouda, the priest of the church, told Watani that the church officials were having a very hard time trying to get an official permit to restore the church but were met with inexplicable intransigence on the part of Wasta town officials.
The Diyabiya church was torched by Islamic fundamentalists in August 2013 in an action of collective punishment against the Copts for their strong showing in the 30 June Revolution in 2013, which led to the overthrow of the Muslim Brothers.
The Diyabiya Church is in possession of documents from the local building authority proving the church building suffers from severe cracks, in addition to a presidential decree and a local building department restoration permit issued back in 2007 when the building was already displaying strong signs of dilapidation.
Wasta security authorities and the town mayor, however, have insisted on disregarding the permits and approvals that Fr Gouda should re-apply for new permits. Fr Gouda says Beni Sweif governor Magdy al-Batiti never stepped in to resolve the problem.
6 October 2014