A group of Christian pilgrims from Egypt traveling to Jerusalem to visit holy sites on Easter were scolded Monday by the country’s leading daily for breaking an unwritten travel ban to Israel.
Al-Ahram reported that 76 tourists boarded an Air Sinai flight from Cairo to Tel Aviv Monday, adding that, following the death of Pope Shenouda III — recently deceased head of the Coptic Church — on March 17, more and more Egyptian Copts are traveling to Israel from Egypt. Pope Shenouda had banned religious tourism to Israel, branding it unwanted normalization with the enemy.
Although the Coptic Church shares custody over the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Egyptians wishing to travel to Israel must apply for special permits from the Egyptian ministry of interior. They are often questioned as to the exact purpose of their visit, causing many to reconsider the trip.