Defying ban, Egypt’s Coptic Christians flock to Jerusalem


Nearly 6,000 pilgrims visit Israel for Orthodox Easter season, down from about 15,000 three years ago
By Times of Israel Staff

Photo Credit- (AFP/Gali Tibbon)

Despite a decades-old ban by the Egyptian Coptic Church, its members have been flocking to Jerusalem over the past few years, especially during the Easter season.
Some 5,500 Coptic Christians have made their way to Israel for the pilgrimage this year, the Haaretz daily reported Thursday. That figure is a significant drop from three years ago, when it was estimated that 15,000 Copts, who follow the Julian calendar, arrived for the Easter season.Egyptian Copts were forbidden from visiting Israel by their late pope Shenouda III, who put the prohibition in place to protest Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem. Shenouda passed away in March 2012 at the age of 88, after leading the church for 40 years.

Later that year, the church selected Pope Tawadros II as the new pope. According to the Egyptian news site Ahram Online, Tawadros also opposes pilgrimages to Jerusalem, but has refrained from enforcing the ban and thus paved the way for the thousands of pilgrims.

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