By Ramadan Al Sherbini, Correspondent
Cairo: The Coptic Orthodox Church has denied lifting a ban on pilgrimage to occupied Jerusalem as more Egyptian Christians have flown to Israel to visit the holy city in the past few days.
“We continue to follow in the footsteps of late Pope Shenouda III with regard to national and Arab causes as days have proven his far-sightedness,” the official Middle East News Agency quoted Bishop Pachomius, who became the acting pope, after Shenouda died last month.
Shenouda barred Copts, who make up the majority of Egypt’s 10 million Christians, from visiting occupied Jerusalem due to its occupation by Israel.
The ban has made Shenouda, who led the Church for more than 40 years, popular among Egypt’s Muslim majority.
A private Egyptian airline has carried hundreds of Christians from Cairo in the past few days to Israel to spend the Easter holiday in occupied Jerusalem, according to sources at Cairo airport.
Two such flights were operated on Friday, with around 100 passengers on each, added the sources.
The flights are the first of their kind since Egypt signed a controversial peace treaty with Israel in 1979.