Church suspends priest, hotel files defamation Complaint

By: Daily News Egypt
14/8/2011

CAIRO: Senior Coptic Bishop Basanti has suspended a priest following an incident where the latter took off his robes after allegedly being asked to do so by the security staff of a Cairo hotel.

The incident, caught on closed circuit TV cameras, showed Father Boulos Ewida of the Virgin Mary Church in Zahraa swiftly remove his robes and remain in his underclothes for several minutes at the entrance of the Grand Nile Tower hotel.

According to media reports, the hotel had summarily denied Father Ewida’s allegations, saying that a thorough investigation of the incident has revealed that Father Ewida was never requested at any point to remove his clothes.

The hotel has also filed a complaint with the Prosecutor General against Ewida accusing him of defamation.

The unusual incident has enraged tens of Copts, who silently protested Thursday holding candles in front of the hotel.

The Maspero Coptic Youth Union had called for the protest, where some of the participants criticized Ewida’s acceptance to be treated this way, describing it as an insult to all religious figures, both Muslim and Copt.

Protesters held up candles and banners showing their anger at the hotel saying “No to the insult of religious figures,” and “We want an official apology from the hotel’s administration.”

The protest was surrounded by a limited number of police who stood near the protesters.

Coordinator of Maspero Coptic Youth Union Ramy Kamel told Daily News Egypt that his movement decided to make it a silent protest without loud chants in respect for the feelings of fasting Muslims in Ramadan.

Ewida told DNE in a previous interview that while entering the hotel to attend a “national unity” iftar, he was asked to take off his robes because the metal detector alarm went off.

“I took out the mobile, the keys and other private belongings, but the alarm did not stop, so I was requested to take off my robes and I did not want to escalate the situation,” Ewida said. “It was very insulting.”

Ina a statement on Friday, Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf apologized to Ewida and promised a full-fledged investigation by the Ministry of Tourism.

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