Egyptian Christians and Muslims Finally Come Together — To Exorcise Demonic Spirits March 6, 2014

Egyptian Christians and Muslims Finally Come Together — To Exorcise Demonic Spirits

Aww. Ain’t conciliation grand?

[T]here is at least one sphere of Egyptian contemporary life where interfaith cooperation perseveres, and that is at weekly exorcisms performed by one of the country’s most celebrated priests, Father Sama’an Ibrahim. He is one of the few priests in Egypt who can preform exorcisms — not even the Coptic Pope can — and his reputation for expelling demons of all kinds extends well beyond his Christian flock. …

Four church volunteers carry an older woman, writhing and swathed in a voluminous headscarf, towards the roped off area [in Father Sama’an’s megachurch]. She repeatedly interrupts the prayer with caterwauled exhortations that “There is no God but Allah,” the Muslim declaration of faith. Father Sama’an, draped in a black robe and a black knit cap, breaks into the prayer to gently remind his congregation to focus. “Don’t pay attention,” he says. “The devil just wants to destroy our congregation.”

The possessed section breaks out into another round of nerve-shattering hoots and screeches. The congregation responds with a louder recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. “Crush the devil beneath your feet, don’t let him get to us!” shouts the priest from his podium.

Prayer over, Father Sama’an plunges from the stage into the roped off section, holding his silver cross before him like a beacon. With his other hand he flings holy water over the crowd from a crumpled plastic bottle. Attendees, Muslim and Christian, possessed and not possessed, surge towards him, attempting to catch the droplets in their hands. When they do, they rub the water over their faces. They reach for his long white beard; they clutch at his robe. A woman collapses at his feet in a spasm of garbled cries.

And so on.

Father Sama’an isn’t shy about listing his accomplishments, which he claims include the stunning feat of bringing four dead people back to life. “There were witnesses,” he says — but not, alas, independent video crews and medical professionals to verify these miracles.

Anyway, it’s lovely that Christians and Muslims can be engaged in fighting a common enemy, rather than each other. That people with severe mental and possibly addiction issues don’t get the medical treatment they need, and are instead brought to be set upon by a meretricious demon hunter, diminishes the glory of the interfaith collaboration only slightly.

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