Press Release from H.G. Bishop Angaelos
General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in England
Having read several comments in Egyptian and Arabic newspapers, whether electronic or in print form, covering the return of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III to Cairo from London, via Heathrow International Airport, we would like to make the following points:
His Holiness consecrated the Cathedral of Saint George at the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage and conveyed words of thanks to the heads of Christian denominations and other dignitaries who were present at this occasion, including representatives of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown the Archbishop of Canterbury The Most Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams, as well as others.
From the Centre, His Holiness and his delegation proceeded, accompanied by His Excellency Mr. Gihad Madi the Egyptian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, to Heathrow International Airport. At the security entrance gate to the VIP lounge at Heathrow, and due to an administrative error, the security official insisted that His Holiness and his delegation pass through the metal detector, a procedure that His Holiness has not been subjected to in the past. We voiced our objections, supported by the Egyptian Ambassador, who insisted that His Holiness should not be subjected to this treatment. His Excellency then made contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office trying to find a solution to this situation.
After much unsuccessful deliberation the matter was placed before His Holiness who saw it better to comply in order not to complicate matters further or cause any delays to the flight and the other passengers.
On our part, we saw that this was quite inappropriate and unacceptable and so have been in contact with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the security authorities at Heathrow International Airport, and have requested an investigation into this matter and the taking of steps to ensure that this incident is not repeated. Discussion is still in progress.
Finally, this is the only official and authorised press release regarding this matter to be published on our behalf.
General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church