Mount Sinai to be Cleaned, Lit by 2000 Candles on Earth Day
The trail to the peak of Mount Sinai, where tradition says Moses received the Ten Commandments, will be cleaned up and then lit up by 2000 candles on Earth Day, organizers said Thursday.
Earth Day, a United Nations backed environment awareness day which falls Saturday, is observed annually around the world in a bid to clean up some of the pollution besieging the planet.
Cleanup efforts will focus especially on the area around the fortress-like walls of Saint Catherine's Monastery, at the foot of Mount Sinai, which Pope John Paul II visited during his year 2000 pilgrimage in February.
It is littered with beer cans, bottles, empty lunchboxes, broken tiles and other building debris, although the main five-kilometer (three-mile) trail to the summit is cleaner, with litter baskets posted along the way.
John Grainger, the British manager of a EU-Egyptian group to protect the Sinai environment, said he expected thousands of volunteers, including pilgrims and tourists, to help in Saturday's clean-up.
They will gather after work to hear traditional tales in Arabic and English before the candles are lit at sundown, forming a chain all the way to the 2,285-meter (7,497-foot) high summit.
The candles will be planted in sand at the base of discarded and cut-off plastic mineral water bottles and, organizers promised, they will be removed in a cleanup effort following the event.
The Greek Orthodox monastery, which contains historic icons, and the granite peaks of Mount Sinai prove a strong lure to pilgrims and tourists, numbering about 1,000 a day, according to Father John Metaxos.
Metaxos, a monk who runs the Auberge Saint Catherine, said a dozen more rooms are being added to the 55-room inn by the monastery to cope with growing demand -(AFP)
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