The Coptic Moulid of St George (Aug 2–28), held around the Church of Mar Girgis in the village of Mit Damsis, is notable primarily for its exorcisms. Copts attribute demonic possession to improper baptism or deliberate curses, and specially trained priests bully and coax the afrit (“demon”) to leave through its victim’s fingers or toes rather than via the eyes, which is believed to cause blindness. Both Copts and Muslims attend the moulid, usually harmoniously, although in 2009 it had to close a day early due to sectarian clashes between Christian and Muslim youths. The Muslims apparently objected to this Christian moulid being allowed while, using the swine flu scare of that year as a pretext, a similar Muslim event earlier in the year had been banned. The ban was, ironically, a sop to the Islamic fundamentalist lobby.

Mit Damsis village is near the Damietta branch of the Nile on the Mit Ghamr–Aga road between Zagazig and Mansoura. Because the moulid is well attended there’s a fair chance of lifts along the seven-kilometre track that turns west off the main road, 15km south of Aga. Mit Damsis rarely appears on maps; don’t confuse it with Damas, which does.

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