On account of the fact that in the course of the last few days there have been made varied media reports about the Monastery of Sinai and the problems that it faces (which always according to the said self-same sources) result in creating among the Public Opinion impressions that do not correspond to reality, hereby we wish to inform you as to the following:
a. The southern Sinai region along with the broader area of the Monastery constituted-prior to the Political crisis in Egypt – the third most visited tourist destination in the Country (after the Pyramids and Luxor). For reasons of safety in relation with the movement of such a large number of foreign (mostly) Lay-persons,in this sensitive region, the local Directorate of the Tourist Police issued, as of a week ago, an Instruction for the temporary “Closing” of the Monastery in question to Tourists.
b. The said Directive concerned the numerous tourists and not the organized groups of Pilgrims,who, -though few- continued to arrive in the Sinai,on a Pilgrimage, upon request. The Gates of the Monastery (literally) remained open; hence, Monastic life continued as usual as well as the work of the Bedouin workers and the Pilgrims’ entrance.
c. Already, as of yesterday September 9th, the above deterrent local regulation has been lifted and the decision in this sense was officially announ-ced by the Minister of Environment of Egypt as it had been assessed, at a higher level, (and not at a local one, as had occurred during the “ban”) that there no longer existed any real reasons of risk. Thus there was satisfied the unanimous desire of the South Sinai Bedouin Tribes that had requested for the opening of the Monastery to the Public at large, as of the first moment.
d. It is absolutely not true that the Monastery went subject to any kind of assault, as it was circulated – to a limited extent among various media.
e. The episodes that are occasionally referred to as occurring in the Sinai concern the northern Sinai area, that is very distant from the Monastery (at least 500 km.); that is governed by a special status and which is characterized by a particular population composition that is completely different from the mountainous South Sinai region and its inhabitants, who are traditionally defenders of the Monastery and that have resisted strongly the infiltration of extremist elements.
f. However and in spite of the above, a fact that remains indiscutable is that
through the arrest of the Pilgrims’ influx as well as that of the halting of the tourists’ arrivals, due to the broader crisis in the Middle East, the Monastery has been driven to such a total economic state of adversity that it is unable to cope with its traditional obligations towards its Bedouin workers as well as to continue its charitable work in favour of the Desert dwellers. It is this highly sensitive point that constitutes, in the present phase, the Monastery’s most serious problem and therefore all those who love the Monastery should be made mainly aware of this fact so as to aid it in a matter-of-fact way, on the one hand, as well as helping it with the imperative duty of Prayer.
From the Holy Monastery’s Athens Dependency OfficeDorylaiou,26-P.A.C.115 21Tel.:+30-210-64.61.401