Coptic monk arrested over murder of bishop in Egypt

Blanche Robertson
August 12, 2018

Bishop Epiphanius, 68, was the head of Saint Macarius monastery in Wadi el-Natrun, north-west of Cairo.

Egyptian authorities have detained another monk as part of their investigation into the death of an abbot in a monastery north of Cairo last month.

Islamist militants have claimed several attacks on Egypt's large Christian minority in recent years, including two deadly bombings on Palm Sunday in April 2017 and a blast at Cairo's largest Coptic cathedral in December 2016 that killed 28 people.

Lawyer Ameer Naseef told Reuters that an Alexandria prosecutor on Friday charged Wael Saad, a monk who was known as Isaiah al-Makari before he was stripped of his religious title, with the July 29 killing.

Earlier this month the church announced a dozen measures related to monks' activities after a meeting called "to discuss monastic order in light of the painful incident and martyrdom of Bishop Epiphanius", a church statement said.

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Naseef also said that he had chose to withdraw from the case, but he gave no reason.

Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's predominantly Sunni Muslim population of some 96 million.

The church initially said it was because he had been investigated over long-standing violations of his duties.

A suicide bomber attempted to attack the Virgin Lady Church in the Shobra el-Kheima district on Saturday but blew himself up before reaching his target, officials said.

Following the death of Bishop Epiphanius, the Holy Synod, issued new decrees prohibiting monks' use of social media, media appearances by monks, and the construction of unlicensed worship sites.

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