The visit by Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II, who went to Jerusalem for the funeral of the Holy Land’s Coptic Archbishop Abraham, was taken as a sign that the late Coptic Pope Shenouda III’s travel-ban was rescinded.
Thousands of Egyptian Copts flocked to Jerusalem this year in celebration of Palm Sunday.
According to Egyptian media, at least 5,700 Coptic Orthodox Christians have travelled to Jerusalem so far this year, an increase of more than a thousand compared to the Coptic pilgrims who undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Places of Jerusalem in 2015.
The growing presence of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox in the Holy City marks an end to a ban on travel by Copts to Israel after the late Coptic Pope Shenouda III had instructed the faithful not to travel to Israel because of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
That ban remained in effect even after Egypt and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1979.
The prohibition was never formally revoked, but after his death in 2012 pilgrimages slowly resumed and last November, the new Coptic Pope Tawadros II traveled to Jerusalem for the funeral of the Coptic Archbishop Abraham.
The visit, although presented as “an exception,” was taken as a sign that the ban was rescinded.
This year, nearly 6,000 Egyptian Copts have already traveled to Jerusalem, with the numbers increasing steadily as the Copts, who follow the Julian calendar, approach the celebration of Easter.
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