No church, no archbishop
The State commissioner’s authority has issued its report on the case brought to the administrative court by Naguib Gabrail, head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights, against the Interior Minister and Max Michel who now goes by the name and rank of Anba (Archbishop) Maximos, head of the St Athanasius Church. The report ruled that the ID issued by the Interior Ministry citing Michel as Anba Maximos is invalid, and that there is no legal entity registered in the name of the St Athanasius Church. What legally exists is an NGO named St Athanasius Society, which does not entitle its head to the rank of archbishop. The report should be placed before the court which is scheduled to rule in the case on 25 December.
Two girls back home
Last week saw the return home of two Coptic under-age girls who had gone missing. Mariam Maatouq, 15, who was reported missing from her home village of al-Sign in Beheira, west of the Delta, last Tuesday, was found and returned home by the police on Friday dawn. The congregation of her village church of Mar-Girgis had conducted a sit-in at the church premises till the girl was returned. Samia Shawqy, 17, from the village of al-Shaghab in Esna north of Luxor, was also found and returned home to her family last week following almost one month of disappearance. In Esna too the village Copts had demonstrated in protest against police procrastination in finding the girl. The number of under-age Coptic girls who disappear from home and are never ‘found’ by the police has been on the rise lately, leading to a feeling of anxiousness among Copts who believe their daughters are the target of an Islamisation campaign.
Ready for bird flu
The international organisation for animal health has granted Egypt one million doses of bird flu vaccine to prevent an onslaught of the disease among domestic birds. Dr Hamid Samaha, head of the General Authority for Veterinary Services said that some 90 million domestic birds were vaccinated during the last three months, meaning that 70 per cent of the domestic birds in Egypt have been vaccinated. A national campaign is ongoing to vaccinate the remaining 30 per cent.
Last Sunday saw the opening of the 13th round of the Cairo Arab Media Festival in which 20 Arab countries took part. The five-day event tackled a number of pressing media issues throughout six symposiums, including the relation of Arab media to financing capital, politics and public opinion. Some 675 works from 20 countries took part in the contest.
Alexandria is tomorrow hosting a conference on the participation of Arab women in political life, organised jointly by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and the Swedish Institute in Alexandria. Participants include representatives and NGOs from nine Arab countries, in addition to Sweden the symposium’s organiser. Issues on elections and the relevant international and local laws and regulations will be tackled.
Smuggled long ago
A recent letter from the United States FBI informed Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, of the secret behind the disappearance of 90 antiquities from the Cairo University antiquities storehouse 12 years ago. According to the FBI, the antiquities were smuggled by an international gang. Hawass said a delegation from the SCA will visit the US to retrieve the antiquities once the procedures proving Egypt’s ownership are completed.
Fellini Gold Medal
UNESCO has granted Culture Minister Farouk Hosni the Gold Medal of Fellini, the highest UNESCO honour in the field of culture. The medal came in appreciation of Hosni’s long contribution towards promoting culture in Egypt and the role he has played at the international level in this respect. For his part, Hosni said he regarded this step as a great honour. Hosni is seeking to win the post of UNESCO director general in the vote scheduled for 2009.