Friday, 19 April 2013

Egypt's St. Anthony Monastery | Manoocher Deghati

Photo © AP Photo/Manoocher Deghati-All Rights Reserved (MercuryNews.com)
Through Zite, I stumbled on this very interesting photo essay about the Monastery of St Anthony in the Egyptian Eastern Desert. It's a Coptic Orthodox monastery lying deep in the Red Sea mountains, and about 200 miles southeast of Cairo. It is one of the oldest monasteries in the world.

The photo essay was featured by MercuryNews.com, and the photographs are by Manoochar Deghati, a well-known Iranian-French photojournalist, and also the brother of Reza, an Iranian-French photographer.

The monks at the St. Anthony's Monastery follow the saint's ascetic tradition, but even they won't be silenced amid the Islamists' rising power.

I think the MercuyNews.com reportage is quite timely in view of the recent attacks on Egyptian Christians caused by the increase in bigoted religious rhetoric by Islamists. Clerics and others on religious television channels in Egypt spread much of the bigotry and discriminatory rhetoric, and despite claiming to be otherwise, members of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, have stigmatized religious minorities, particularly Copts.

Christians or Copts form more than 10% of Egypt's population of 85 million, and lived largely peacefully alongside Muslims for more than a millennium. Sectarian tensions have steadily risen over the past four decades, and the prominence of the Islamists and the Islamist government raised tensions further, have exacerbated the sectarian frictions.

The Copts are the native Christians of Egypt, and are a major ethno-religious group in Egypt.  Christianity was the majority religion during the 4th to 6th centuries AD and until the Muslim conquest of Egypt.