Off with your pants ... in church!
Egyptian bishop battles women in his congregation over their sexy look: ‘Leave your make-up, hot pants and tight tops at home’, he warns. [Flickr]
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It's not only radical Islamic groups in Syria and Iraq which are cracking down on women dressing in a sexually provocative manner. Now, an Arab Christian religious leader in Egypt is becoming a hate figure by women there who have been protesting about his new dress code for church.
Coptic Orthodox Bishop Bishoy of Damietta and Kafr El-Sheikh has banned Christian women in his diocese from wearing trousers, blouses and make-up in church to receive holy communion.
And he's pretty serious about it. Signs have been put up at churches in the diocese stating: "In response to the decision of Bishop Bishoy of Damietta and Kafr El-Sheikh, all ladies and girls above the age of eleven should refrain from wearing trousers, blouses or make-up during the sacrament of holy communion in the divine liturgy, and they should wear modest dress."
Yet the move has triggered an angry backlash by women who attend his church who see it as an affront to their own liberty. This is not the first time that the bishop has triggered the wrath of some Christian women though who like to take the opportunity to dress up for Sunday church – even if this means tight slacks and skimpy tops which hug the poitrine and distract the male members of the congregation .
In May 2012, he said: "I call on Christian girls to learn from veiled Muslim women with their modesty. Some Christian women might be displeased with me, but the Virgin Mary, Saint Demiana and the nuns wore modest clothes."
A group of Christians protested at St Mark's Cathedral in central Cairo in response to the bishop's statements at the time, asking him to apologize.
And now he's about to tackle the women head on again over their sultry attire which he fears will raise temperatures amongst his flock.
But he has one or two supporters who emerge from his cassock at the appropriate time, stressing that the dress code is only for inside the church. Father Boulos Halim, spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church, told Al-Ahram Arabic news website that "each bishop has the right to take the decisions he see as suitable for the people in his diocese, as long as it is not against the Orthodox faith."
"Ladies should follow this decision inside the church only and not in their everyday life," added Halim.
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