2 March, 2015 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 01/25/2011
VATICAN-ISLAM - EGYPT
Al Azhar also expected in Assisi
by Bernardo Cervellera
Suspension of dialogue with the Vatican concerns Egyptian Church. For days, Patriarch Naguib, spokesman for the bishops and Catholic communities has submitted to the Egyptian government and the imam of Al Azhar, the Arabic translation of the Pope's speech that led to the apparent freeze. Accusations against Al Jazeera, of intentionally misrepresenting the papal message. In both east and west growing need for real religious freedom against terrorism and secularism.

Rome (AsiaNews) - The decision of Al Azhar to "freeze" dialogue with the Vatican continues to surprise and pain Egyptian Christians. The spokesman of the Coptic Catholic Church, Fr. Rafic Greich has expressed regret over the Islamic University’s decision and his hopes that dialogue will resume. Vatican figures above all hope that Al Azhar will not miss the meeting with representatives of world religions in Assisi in October, wanted by Benedict XVI to remember the 25 years since the first meeting - at the time of John Paul II - and revive the "spirit of Assisi".

Unfortunately, Al Azhar and the Egyptian government continue to criticize the pope's words who – they maintain - asked the Western governments to defend Christians on New Year’s day. In addition, they accuse the pope of only being concerned for Christians and of not taking to heart "the violence faced by Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan".

In fact, the pontiff's words were: “the threatening tensions of the moment and, especially, before the discrimination, abuse and religious intolerance that today are striking Christians in particular (cf. ibid., n. 1), I once again address a pressing invitation not to give in to discouragement and resignation. I urge everyone to pray so that the efforts made by various parties to promote and build peace in the world may be successful. For this difficult task words do not suffice; what is needed is the practical and constant effort of the leaders of Nations, and it is necessary above all that every person be motivated by the authentic spirit of peace, to be implored ever anew in prayer and to be lived in daily relations in every environment”.

The satellite channel al-Jazeera, and many Western media short circuited in their titles, summarizing the words of Benedict XVI in a "The Pope calls on Western governments to defend the Christians in the Middle East." In short, a new kind of crusade.

It must be said that throughout the past few weeks and several times, Card. Antonios Naguib, head of the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Egypt, publically explianed the true meaning of the pope’s words. A Catholic delegation, headed by Greek Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III, has visited Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq, Minister of Waqfs (Islamic Religious Affairs), to hand him the Arabic translation of Benedict XVI’s address and clarify the ambiguity caused by al Jazeera that "attempts to sow confusion and stir relations between Egypt and in particular Al Azhar and the Catholic Church."

According to Fr. Greich, Al Jazeera deliberately turned the papal declaration into a "request for Western governments to protect Christians," while the pope only asked local governments to protect all citizens from terrorism.

A week ago, another Catholic delegation - including the auxiliary bishops of Alexandria, Mgr. Youhanna Golte and Mgr Boutros Fahim, along with Fr Greich - visited the Imam of Al Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad Al Tayyib to present him the actual statements of the pope and shed more light on Al Jazeera’s manipulation thereof. At the end of the encounter Al Tayyib and the delegation agreed that Al Azhar would publish a statement on their meeting.

"Instead of the press statement - said Father Greich - we were shocked by the announcement of the freezing of dialogue between Al Azhar and the Vatican”.

The growing feeling among experts is that the freezing of the dialogue between the Vatican and Al Azhar is a smokescreen to conceal Egypt’s responsibility for the Alexandria attack. From the very start the Egyptian government denounced "foreign hands" behind the massacre of Christians, stressing that "Christians and Muslims in Egypt are one nation."

This declaration of innocence is not totally true. In fact, the Christians in Egypt face discrimination on many levels  (construction of churches, repairs, employment in public positions, etc. ..). Moreover, the government has one nothing to stop the growth of fundamentalism and fanaticism, which are the bedrock of terrorism.

From this point of view, in the aftermath of the attack in Alexandria, the Catholic Church has made a series of requests of the government (new laws on religious buildings; restructuring of the school curricula to erase discrimination, fair trials and the imposition of sentences for those who encourage fanaticism ,..)[1].

Instead, the government continues to favour the track of foreign terrorists, and is slow to address the problems of discrimination within its own borders.

To a certain extent, Egypt is behaving like many Western governments. These, too, after the bombings in Baghdad and Alexandria, cried terrorism, failing to realise that the crux of the problem of Christians safety lies within governments that prefer to sacrifice the followers of Jesus, rather than risk unhinging the Muslim world. Thus they do not help religious freedom, on the contrary, the leave the door open for fanaticism.

On the other hand, Western governments should not be invoked to launch wars and sanctions, but to strengthen cultural dialogue, to support education (an area that is becoming increasingly controlled by al Qaeda), to suggest effective reciprocity.

Under the shadow of this shameful situation of political inanity, both Eastern and Western, the real value of the meeting in Assisi and its "spirit" becomes increasingly relevant. As in the days of John Paul II, in no way does it want to be seen as a sort of "UN of religions", a watered-down syncretism of identities. Rather, the global meeting aims to be a symbol.

Its "spirit" wants to emphasize two elements: that religion and religions are not a problem for the world, but a resource. That they can live together and are not destined towards an inevitable clash of civilizations.

In this sense, the Assisi proposal aims, as a positive gesture, to counter the problems which undermine global peace as identified by the Pope; terrorism and secularism. The first because it uses violence to impose one religion, the other because it marginalizes the religious energies of society, reduces freedom of religion, and humiliates the dignity of all persons to the material dimension alone.

 

(André Azzam collaborated)

 

 

 


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
04/13/2011 EGYPT - VATICAN
Egypt, Al-Azhar reaffirms opposition to dialogue with Vatican
01/03/2011 ISLAM - VATICAN - EGYPT
Europe and Islam in the wake of attacks against Copts in Alexandria
by Samir Khalil Samir
01/14/2013 EGYPT - ISLAM
Al-Azhar’s double game to Islamize Egypt and maintain power
by Samir Khalil Samir
11/03/2008 VATICAN - ISLAM
Christians and Muslims: resuming dialogue, thanks to the pope
by Samir Khalil Samir
01/03/2011 EGYPT – ISLAM
Alexandria, tensions between Copts and Government

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.