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» 04/13/2011
EGYPT - VATICAN
Egypt, Al-Azhar reaffirms opposition to dialogue with Vatican
In a meeting with the papal nuncio, the Grand Imam El-Tayeb reiterates the accusations against the Vatican after the Pope's appeals for the safety of Christians. AsiaNews sources underline the contradictions of the Muslim world and the dual position of the Egyptian authorities of Al-Azhar, intransigent towards the Vatican, but claiming to be the moderate face of Islam.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - Al-Azhar will only resume talks with the Holy See after an apology from the Pope, who was accused of criticizing Islam following an attack against the Coptic Cathedral in Alexandria last January 3. As much was revealed in an informal meeting between Ahmed El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and Michael Fitzgerald, Vatican ambassador to Cairo. In the meeting, which took place yesterday in Cairo, the Muslim leader said that relations between the two religions are normal, but demands an official apology from the Pope, as a condition to restarting any dialogue between Al-Azhar and the Vatican.

"It's not fair to ask the Pope for an apology - says a source, anonymous for safety reasons - because he never insulted Islam, he just asked for the protection of Christians wherever they are, as is his duty." The source points out the dual position held by the authorities of Al-Azhar, which on one hand demand an apology from the Pope, but still want to be seen as the moderate face of Islam. "The Vatican – continues the source - must be firm on its positions and ask the imam of Al-Azhar the reasons for an apology and where the error of the Holy Father lies. Al-Azhar should instead explain why there continues to be violence against Christians in Egypt before it demands excuses".

According to the source, the relationship, viewed as courteous in the past, were in fact ambiguous. "Islamic leaders - he says- have always imposed a dialogue of superficial courtesy with the Church, in this way avoiding discussing or addressing contentious issues and problems encountered between Christianity and Islam. Now the Vatican is aware of the situation and is not afraid to adopt a more firm and rigid stance. "

The Jasmine Revolution and the fall of Mubarak has highlighted the confusion and instability within Egyptian Muslim society, teetering between secular and democratic movements, radical Islam and the risk of a new military regime. According to the source this would in part explain the contradictory attitude of Al-Azhar.

"The Egyptian Muslim world - he says - is currently very divided. At Al-Azhar, there are contrasts between the positions of Ahmed El-Tayeb and other imams with scholars of the university. In turn, Al-Azhar is at odds with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, internally divided between the hard line of the older members and the young reformers. The contrast also exists between the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist movement, who clash on many topics. " The source says that these divisions could clarify the positions and currents within Islam, the result of contradictions within the Koran and the absence of final authority in the Muslim world.

The military government, currently guarantors of stability, is an expression of this confusion. The source says the arrest of Mubarak and his sons, which took place today, is a device used by the army to regain the popular consensus, lost after the violent repression of demonstrations on April 8. "The military - he says - want to show they are still part of the population, attacking Mubarak and dispelling the doubts of collusion with the old regime." (Sc)


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See also
01/25/2011 VATICAN-ISLAM - EGYPT
Al Azhar also expected in Assisi
by Bernardo Cervellera
01/21/2011 ISLAM - VATICAN
Al-Azhar against the Vatican: politics and pettiness
by Bernardo Cervellera
01/20/2011 EGYPT-VATICAN
Islamic Al Azhar University suspends dialogue with Vatican
11/03/2008 VATICAN - ISLAM
Christians and Muslims: resuming dialogue, thanks to the pope
by Samir Khalil Samir
01/03/2011 ISLAM - VATICAN - EGYPT
Europe and Islam in the wake of attacks against Copts in Alexandria
by Samir Khalil Samir

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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