The weekly exorcisms at the St. Sam‘an Cathedral in the Mokattam neighborhood, behind the Zabalin in Cairo, are led by Father Sam‘an Ibrahim, and it attracts both Christians and Muslims alike.
As Aryn Baker writes, Father Sam‘an
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. Muslim Imams can do exorcisms as well, explains the woman, who declined to give her name, but her mother’s case required some extra muscle. “We went to a mosque first for healing, but the demons who harm her are more afraid of the Christian priest.”
For good reason. Father Sama’an is a force to be reckoned with. Inspired by a vision, he carved his church out of the caverns and crumbled rocks of Cairo’s Mokattam Mountain nearly 20 years ago. His congregants were the local Christian garbage pickers who had been corralled into a foul-smelling slum at the mountain’s edge. Nowadays, he draws Christians from across the capital, rich and poor alike. His humble church is now one of the largest in Egypt, with a worldwide congregation tuning in to weekly masses via a live video feed broadcast on Facebook and cataloged online.
More photographs can be accessed through Mosa‘ab Elshamy’s project, titled “Unholy Choices – Egypt’s Christian Minority“