INVADING OUR SACRED SPACE – ARABISATION OF OUR MONASTERIES
In a previous article, I criticised the way the name of the Monastery of Saint Anthony at the Red Sea is displayed, in Arabic (in the largest fonts), and then English, and then Coptic; and I said:
There is no excuse whatsoever for monasteries in Egypt to promote Arabic at the expense of Coptic language even if it is the great monastery of Saint Anthony.
I argued that the name of the sacred monastery should be displayed first in Coptic, our national language, then in the dominant language in Egypt (Arabic), then the language known to most tourists (English). But I noted that it was not only the Monastery of Saint Anthony that comes under this criticism, as it is a defect that affects most of our churches, monasteries, schools and social activity venues.
Today, with all due respect to our sacred monasteries, I pick on two more monasteries, this time from the western desert, in Wadi Natrun:
First, the Monastery of Saint Bishoy
At least, the Monastery of Saint Anthony displays its name in Coptic besides Arabic and English, even though it relegates Coptic to the third, and last, position. The Monastery of Saint Bishoy does not use Coptic at all! Its name is displayed in Arabic and one finds lots of notices written in Arabic. The name is displayed, too, in English.
Second, the Monastery of the Holy Virgin Mary (Syrians)
Here again, we find the monastery’s name displayed in Arabic and English only. Coptic is indeed used but not to show the name of the monastery but to tell us that it belongs to the Coptic Orthodox Church.
In a way, we all – yes, clergy and laity – assist in the process of Arabisation of the Copts and the final demise of our beautiful Coptic language. Saint Samuel of Kalamoun (Qalamoun) would be ashamed of us all!
Is it really difficult that we, particularly the clergy, pay a special attention to this matter, and work to revive our Coptic language and resist Arabisation that has invaded our sacred space even in the remote deserts of Egypt?