Inner West Independent

Demolition proves detrimental to Coptic christians

The historic Coptic Church which was demolished last week. Credit: Wikimedia commons

Despite ten years of protest from members of the local community and opposing non-governmental organisations, St. Mary’s Coptic Church in Sydenham no longer stands.

The Inner West Council had the historic chuch demolished last week, justifying the move after a section of the building went up in flames due to an alleged arson attack on May 2nd.

The church, originally built in 1884 was converted to a Coptic church in 1969, becoming the first Coptic church outside of Egypt.

Bishoy Wasef created a memorial Facebook page called ‘In Memoriam – St Mary Coptic Church, Sydenham” which is dedicated to remembering the Coptic Church and its importance to the community.

In a post, Mr Wasef wrote “In memoriam of our beloved church, feel free to join this group and post stories, pictures and videos of all the good times. This page can be a permanent archive for all our memories.”

With 227 members, the Facebook group proves that the demolition of the church has greatly impacted the community, with members of the group posting numerous photos of their memories in the church.

Before the demolition, Federal Member for Grayndler Anthony Albanese called for the Inner West Council to reconsider demolishing the Coptic church, highlighting the historical significance outweighed the need for an extended park area.

“If this is not heritage — a church built in 1884, the first Coptic Orthodox Church outside of Egypt — then what is?” he said.

Where the church once stood, the council will create a skate park and a paved communal area, leaving the Coptic Christians in Sydenham to find a new home for their religious activities.

The Australian Coptic Heritage and Community Services (ACHCS) has now commenced legal action against Inner West council.

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