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Archive for the ‘coptic christians’ tag

Interfaith Work Remains Important to Protect Religious Minorities

Photo Credit to Getty Images

Coptic Christians demonstrating after conflicts in Egypt.

by John Bryson Chane
from The Washington Post

As Egyptians come to terms with the near-sweep of the Muslim Brotherhood in their new government, no one is more apprehensive of what this new government means than Egypt’s minority Christian population. The new president, Mohamed Morsi, has promised protection for minorities, but Coptic Christians in Egypt are still nervous about the future. And they are not alone. In countries across the Middle East, life for religious minorities is often uncertain; and as the violence of the Arab Spring continues, these groups remain at risk of persecution and discrimination.

But a gathering of Christian and Muslim faith leaders in Beirut last month gives me hope that religious leaders can play a role in speaking up for minority religions and negotiating conflicts between groups. The symbolism of holding such a meeting in Beirut is resonant and powerful. For Protestants and Catholics to come together with Shi’ites and Sunnis in a city so often shredded by sectarian violence sends a powerful message to faith communities and the world.

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Young Egyptians Use Facebook Coffee to Bring Religions Together

By Shahira Amin
From CNN

A group in Cairo is using a Facebook page to unite Egypt’s different religions at a local coffeehouse in the upper-class suburb of Maadi.

Over a cappuccino and a muffin, an orthodox Christian, a liberal Muslim and an ultra-conservative Islamist discuss their differing ideologies in the hopes of changing stereotypes.

They are known as the Salafyo Costa group, and they say one of their aims is to change the public perception of the Salafists, a puritanical branch of Islam that dictates only the followers of the prophet Mohammed practice the correct Islam. Salafists are often perceived as terrorists, the group says.

As Egyptians come to the end of the first round of voting in the country’s historic elections, Islamist parties appear headed for a decisive majority in the first freely elected parliament since the ouster of former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

So far, the Freedom and Justice Party operated by the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest and best-organized political movement, has won nearly 40% of the vote, followed by the ultraconservative Salafist parties with another 25%.

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December 20th, 2011 at 10:45 am

Egyptian Muslims and Christians: “If You Don’t Communicate, You Don’t Exist”

By Safia Aoude
from Common Ground News Service

Alexandria, Egypt – “We can write anything now!” said an editor of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram to some visiting Danish participants in Cairo as a part of a recent Alexandria-based conference called “Media´s Role for Changing Society and Democracy”. The Egyptian revolution has certainly become a catalyst for free speech and for more political debate in Egyptian media. Yet, the chaotic climate of the revolution has also suffered some backlash. Another editor at Al-Ahram warned that the media in Egypt is now in a political limbo, and can sometimes even motivate the Egyptian public towards sectarian violence and false information.

The conference and the changing media landscape made it clear to all participants that both mass media communication, as well as Muslim-Christian dialogue, were of immense importance during this time of transition in Egypt. And participants did note that the media has the potential to promote positive dialogue. New media, especially social media sites like YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, has brought new players into the game of mass communication and challenged the hegemony of the “old” regular mass media.

Danish participant Peter Fisher-Nielsen pointed out that the limitations created by state censorship have loosened after the revolution, but that the current absence of any limits on what can be discussed in the media also poses a danger for more confrontation. That is why direct dialogue between religious minorities and groups has become more important than ever.

The conference brought together Muslim and Christian activists and leaders to do just that through discussion of the religious media and the on-going Egyptian revolution. Co-organised by the Egyptian Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS) and the Danish Christian organisation Danmission, the conference was conducted by the Forum for Intercultural Dialogue the first week of October.

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Egypt protesters stage interfaith prayers for dead

From RFI

Demonstrators on Cairo’s Tahrir Square held Coptic Christian and Muslim prayers for the 300 people who have died in protests against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, as banks reopened and the army reinforced its presence.

Banks reopened, causing queues for cash withdrawals, and traffic reappeared on the capital’s streets on the 13th day of protests. The central bank has limited daily personal cash withdrawals to 50,000 Egypitian pounds (7,000 euros) in an attempt to avoid a run on the banks.
The military took up positions on 6 October bridge, which was the scene of clashes between pro-Mubarak and anti-Mubarak demonstrators during the week. Soldiers were deployed at the entrance to the square and near the Egyptian Museum, although barricades erected by the anti-Mubarak camp remained in place.
Police, who vanished from the streets after becoming a focus of protesters’ anger, have also reappeared.
Despite poor weather and signs of protest fatigue, thousands of people remain on the square.
A Coptic priest and Muslim sheikh stood together to commemorate the dead, as the crowd shouted “a single hand, a single hand” to show interfaith solidarity.  Prayers of both faiths followed.

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February 9th, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Thousands of Egyptian Muslims Serve as Human Shields to Protect Coptic Christians

Egyptian Muslims hold vigil for Coptic Christian neighbors

Egyptian Muslims hold vigil for Coptic Christian neighbors

from Ahram Online

Muslims turned up in droves for the Coptic Christmas mass Thursday night, offering their bodies, and lives, as “shields” to Egypt’s threatened Christian community

Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word last Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside.

From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for the evening mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.

Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular Muslim televangelist and preacher

, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.

“This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly Street. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.”

Click here to read the full article from Ahram Online.

Coptic Christians Are Neighbors

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair, Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions

by Abdul Malik Mujahid
from the Huffington Post

I was horrified to read about the New Year’s Day bombing that killed 21 worshipers at the Coptic Christian Saints Church in Alexandria, Egypt. I join Muslim scholars around the world who have roundly condemned this act that directly contravenes Islamic teachings.

“Muslims are not only obligated not to harm Christians, but to protect and defend them and their places of worship,” said Imam Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, in response to the attack.

Tense relations between people of different faiths are not limited to this horrific incident. Nor are they reserved to Egypt. Around the world, we are witnessing deadly extremism as well as intense conflict, whether the weapons are hateful words or bombs and guns.

Too often, religion is misused as an instrument for division and injustice. This betrays the very ideals and teachings that lie at the heart of each of the world’s great traditions. Religious and spiritual traditions shape the lives of billions around the world in wise and wonderful ways. They offer a platform for community building, not only within individual faiths, but across faiths as well.

The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions traces its roots to the first parliament that took place in Chicago almost 120 years ago. From the start, its aim has been to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities. As well, the Council aims to foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions to achieve a just, peaceful, and sustainable world.

Over the years, the interfaith movement has initiated dialogues and nurtured relationships between people of varying faiths. In doing so, it has provided a framework for expressing many visions of a just, peaceful and sustainable future. In the process, religious and spiritual communities have discovered a shared commitment to ethical principles and engaged in seeking the common good.

This modern interfaith movement is taking root all across the world. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has established his own interfaith foundation; Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has found interfaith dialogue a crucial aspect of living in an interdependent world; last August, when a few Christian homes were attacked in Pakistan, the leader of the most conservative Islamic party in Karachi stood with Christians and Hindus protesting against this crime; when the Coptic Church was attacked on January 1, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, head of Al Azhar, visited the Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III to express his solidarity. Students at Al-Azhar University also organized a protest rally in solidarity with Egyptian Copts.

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