At one AM in the morning of last Thursday, many Coptic clergymen and workers gathered to build a wall a few meters away from the monastery of Saint Bīshūy on the main road to the airport of the Military Academy and farms belonging to many people in Wādī al-Natrūn.
The wall blocked the main road and a tense atmosphere prevailed upon reporting the news to the police and security forces who appeared with a team of experts as soon as they were informed.
Muḥammad Fū’ād reports that the monastery of Bishop Bīshūy is about three Feddans, but the actual land of the monastery today exceeds 30 Feddans including the land taken over to build the wall.
The wall blocks the way to two main mosques there; namely al-Wahāb and al-Isrā’. The latter was established during the days of Anwar al-Sādāt who asked to build a mosque in the area while it was the residence of Pope Shenouda [Editor: it is still the residence of Pope Shenouda but perhaps the author refers to the period Pope Shenouda had been banned to this monastery? That was the period 1981-1985]. Muḥammad Fū’ād mentions that decisions were made to renew the mosque but Coptic clergymen did not allow it because the mosque faces Anbā Bīshūy’s Monastery.
On the other hand, a source from the Department of Planning [Reviewer: no name mentioned] in Wādī al-Natrūn mentioned that the a year and a half ago principals of the Monastery of Anbā Bīshūy asked the Department of Antiquities to construct another road leading to the airport of the Military Academy for the traffic might affect the ancient wall of the monastery.
The Department of Antiquities accepted the demand but the local unit rejected blocking the road for reasons related to public interest.
The Department of Antiquities revealed that a compromise with the local unit must be reached to put the project in practice. Work stopped for a while and resumed last Thursday when more than about 200 people gathered to build the wall.
The built part will be removed according to decision number ten for 2007 in Wādī al-Naṭrūn. A claim was registered under number 248 for 2007.
Ibrāhīm al -Muḥammadī, the Mu’adhdhin of al-Wahāb Mosque, expressed that what happened was an aggression that did not take the interests of many of the farmers who use the road to get to their farms into consideration. The alternative road is 15 Kilometers away and dark. No traffic concedes to access the road. This will consequently prevent Muslims from practicing their creed.
Legislative Consultant Muṣṭafá al-Burtuqālī, an owner of a farm near the monastery, says that this attempt to block the road is a violation of public areas. al- Burtuqālī mentioned that when representatives of al-Ahrām Corporation came to receive the land on which al-Wahāb Mosque was built, the monks of the monastery burst out of the monastery claiming that the determined area of the mosque was violating the monastery’s borders. The representatives responded to the demands of the monks and retreated further.