The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is famous for its traditional lanterns which were for long ages used to light up the dark night from dusk to dawn, the hours during which Muslims are not fasting—the fast extends from dawn to sunset. Even though electric light now lights up the night, lanterns remain a strong, well-loved tradition.
Copts hold the time-honoured tradition of wishing Muslims a happy Ramadan fast, and taking care to abstain from eating or drinking in public, out of respect for the Muslim fast. They also share in the lantern tradition by gifting them to Muslim neighbors and friends.
This year, the Coptic villagers of al-Hatahta in Minya, some 250km south of Cairo, decided to make a giant Ramadan lantern to surprise their Muslim neighbours at the beginning of Ramadan; Ramadan began on 24 April this year. They posted on Facebook photographs of the joyful event when they handed the lantern to the Muslim villagers.
The photos went viral on Facebook, with Muslims posting warm thanks. Comments went along the lines of: “May your brotherly love for us last forever,”; “We pray to Allah to keep all Egyptians safe. May we always have good days with our Coptic brothers and sisters”; “We are grateful, almost speechless at the love you are offering us. Egypt will always well because of that love.”
Other photos showed Minya priests holding Ramadan lanterns as they offered them to Muslims. Among them were the priest of the church of the Martyrs of Faith and the Nation in the Minya village of al-Our, the church where the 20 Copts beheaded by Daesh In 2015 are buried.
And in the city of Minya, a large glittering Crescent embracing a Cross was set up in the square in front of the church of St Tadros al-Shutby, one of 60-plus churches that had been burnt by the Muslim Brothers in 2013, and later fully restored and renovated by the EgyptIan Armed Forces.
Minya is notorious for being a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism; statistics say that 65 per cent of incidents of violence against Copts take place there.
28 April 2020