Christians make up about 10 percent of the Muslim-majority country’s population of 100 million.
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CAIRO: It reads like a murder mystery set in an exotic locale: an abbot found dead in a desert monastery; a monk defrocked and arrested; another held by police and hospitalized after trying to kill himself – or did his fellow monks stage a revenge attack?The case has exposed a side of the church that few in Egypt – Muslim or Christian – knew existed, including the growing power and independence of monks in remote monasteries who appear to be at odds with Pope Tawadros II and the church's central leadership.In a statement last week, it suspended admission of novices to its monasteries for a year, threatened to expel monks found to have established "illegal" monasteries and gave monks a month to shut down social media accounts.Adding to the intrigue, the church's statement appealed to lay Christians not to enter into any financial deals with monks, suggesting that corruption exists in some monasteries.Both men joined the monastery as novices in 2010 .Kamal Zakher, an expert on the church, said the killing has shattered the deep reverence in which monks are held by many lay Christians.
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