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Sunday, 16 August 2009


Tears of joy

The Fawzy brothers, after 14 months of unjustified detention, are finally back home  

By-Tereza Kamal

“Let us give thanks to the Maker of all good things…”

The Prayer of Thanksgiving was joyfully chanted to the music of the cymbals and triangle at dawn last Thursday before the altar of St Epiphanius at the bishopric of Mallawi, Minya, in Upper Egypt, to celebrate the homecoming of the brothers Rifaat and Ibrahim Fawzy.

The Fawzy brothers, two Coptic contractors who had been doing construction jobs at the fourth century desert monastery of Abu-Fana, west of Mallawi, were last year charged with killing a young Muslim man, Khalil Mohamed, during a barbaric attack waged by the ‘Arabs’—as the tribal dwellers of Egypt’s deserts are called—against Abu-Fana monastery on the evening of 31 May 2008. Four monks were badly injured and three others were abducted, tortured through the night, then cast in the desert where they were found the following morning between life and death. Considerable damage was inflicted upon the monastery and its utilities.

Despite strong alibis and the after-death investigation of Mohamed which proved beyond doubt that the Fawzys could never have killed him, and despite a court order for their release, the Fawzys remained detained in the remote prison of the New Valley in the Western Desert. Legal and official efforts by their families, friends, lawyer, and Mallawi Bishopric for their release all failed.

Finally, one month ago—13 months after the Fawzys were detained—the Church agreed to officially ‘reconcile’ with the Arabs, meaning it gave up all legal rights to have the culprits who waged the May 2008 attack prosecuted. This secured the release of the Fawzy brothers.

Rifaat and Ibrahim Fawzy arrived at Mallawi last Thursday at dawn. Together with members of their families and a few close friends, they directly headed to the bishopric to meet Anba Demitrious, bishop of Mallawi, who had stayed up all night—even though he is known to retreat to his cell every evening at 11:00pm—expecting them. They were extremely moved to see the bishop rush down the stairs, in tears, to greet them. He welcomed them home then took everyone into the chapel where, at 3:00am, he led them in prayer, thanking the Lord for their safe homecoming. Everyone joyfully joined in singing praises for the Holy Virgin and St Epiphanius.

The Fawzy brothers’ lawyer Zakary Kamal told Watani that the bishop’s tears of relief and happiness moved those present to tears. Rifaat and Ibrahim themselves said the overflowing emotions of Anba Demitrious managed to wipe away the agony and distress of the months spent in prison.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 16 August 2009 )
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