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No more pants in church? Egypt women reject ban

Tens of Egyptian Coptic protesters rallied against a decision by a bishop to prohibit women from wearing trousers in church

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Tens of Egyptian Coptic women protested on Wednesday a decision by a local bishop in a northern governorate to bar females from wearing trousers and make-up in church, Ahram Online reported.

The women started their protest outside of Abbasiya’s Coptic Cathedral in Cairo but they eventually entered the church with their placards, urging Pope Tawadros II, who was speaking at the pulpit at the time, to take action.

Tawadros II called on the women protesters to lower their signs and said he was working to address the issue.

According to Ahram Online, Bishop Bishoy of Damietta and Kafr el-Sheikh governorates last month ordered the placement of signs in churches urging “all ladies and girls above the age of 11 [to] refrain from wearing trousers, blouses or make-up during the sacrament of Holy Communion in the Divine Liturgy, and they should wear modest dress.”

This is not the first time Bishop Bishoy has addressed the issue of women’s clothing. In 2012, he urged Christian women to wear modest clothing.

“Some Christian women might be displeased with me, but the Virgin Mary, Saint Demiana and the nuns wore modest clothes,” the website quoted him as saying at the time.

Cairo-based journalist Karoline Kamel said Bishoy, who she said represents a minority in the Orthodox Church, had his hardline stance earn him the nickname of a “Salafist Orthodox bishop.”

Bishoy’s order for women to not wear pants in a church will continue in his constituency Damietta and Kafr el-Sheikh governorates, Kamel said because in her opinion “as long as a bishop does not commit a blasphemous act, Pope Tawadros II will not do anything.”

“The church said all bishops are free when applying social laws as they see fit in their areas and as long as they do not commit heresy,” she said.

Ikram Lami, a Coptic analyst, also described Bishoy as a “hardliner.”

“There are extremists in all religions, and most of the time they target women as if they source of vice.”

Lami, who described Bishoy as “hardline conservative,” said Copts will vehemently reject such a decision.