Egypt. Barnabas Fund has been contacted urgently by a partner in the Coptic Orthodox Church this morning with the urgent news that St Anthony's Monastery on the Red Sea is under siege by the police at this very moment. Some 200 - 300 police officers equipped with 14 bulldozers have closed and blockaded the roads outside the monastery, which is situated in a mountainous region of Egypt's Red Sea coast. Monks from the monastery are protesting outside the building trying desperately to protect their home. The police officers were acting on orders from the Red Sea Governorate based in Hurghada. It would seem that prejudiced Muslim officials who are hostile to the Christian Church in Egypt are misusing and violating the law to attack this historic Coptic monastery which dates back to the fourth century. The crisis has arisen because the local governorate claims the walls of the monastery have been constructed illegally and has issued the police with orders to destroy them. However, official permission to construct the walls was obtained in 1992 and they were built some 4 - 5 years ago. Permission was given because the monastery had experienced problems with Muslim extremist groups and it was recognised that a perimeter wall was needed for protection. FURTHER INFORMATION WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE BY BARNABAS FUND, ON REQUEST AS WE RECEIVE IT.

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