From Sedition to Unity: A Future of Coexistence in Egypt
[The Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS, a partner of Global Ministries) organized a panel discussing the recent events in Alexandria. The following is the summary report it issued.]
The heinous incident that took place at Al-Kideesin (Saints) church in Alexandria, right after midnight of the new year’s day had serious affects on the community as a whole, leaving it in a state of mourning and pain. Still, this incident showed the true colors of the Egyptian nation in their union, and their rejection of any force that attacked their unity.
Crimes as this one attack the nation as a whole and that causes the Egyptian people to dig deep into their culture, bringing out principles of citizenship and unity. For that reason, this seminar was arranged, to benefit from this act of terrorism by taking a strong position against all those who threaten national security, communicate concepts of hate and intolerance, and encourage the youth to commit such atrocious acts of terrorism.
Citizenship and the necessity of promoting it, Education, and its importance on the long run in making a change in the Egyptian community and brining tolerance and coexistence, and Law, and the importance of enforcing justice and legislative forces in such times of crisis were the main topics discussed in the panel. These topics were raised by Dr. Mostafa Fekki, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Shura Council, as effective solutions for a future of coexistence in Egypt, in a common panel titled “From Sedition to Unity: A future of Coexistence in Egypt”, held on the 11th of January, 2011, organized by Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services in cooperation with Heliopolis Evangelical Church.
Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki, General Director of CEOSS, led the seminar and stressed that the aim of this meeting was not only to denounce the incident of new year’s eve that took place at Al-Kideesin (Saints) Church, but also look for a future of the coexistence of all Egyptians. He also urged the participants of around one hundred of the Egyptian politicians, policy makers and religious leaders, to focus on presenting effective solutions and future plans to overcome the situation and reduce the risk of future attacks on the Egyptian nation and its unity.
Dr. Fekki started off by strongly denouncing the “concepts and languages of the 19th and 20th century” in conflict resolution, explaining that we are in a new time with new problems that are in need of novel solutions and actions. He argued that the Egyptian people were truly and originally one nation by saying that Egypt was originally a Coptic. Dr. Fikky warned against the dangers of taking this incident lightly or defaulting to blaming foreign hands, explaining that religious extremism on one side would surely trigger extremism on the other, and the delaying of enforcing a penalty could give the impression of the absence of justice and would further the people’s anger and their sense of injustice.
Rev. Dr. Makram Naguib, senior pastor of Heliopolis Evangelical Church, stated that he stood sternly against foreign offers for protection, as he believe that solutions had to come from within Egypt. He expressed how he had been touched earlier that week by the spontaneous initiatives taken by many Muslims in their attendance in the Christmas Celebration. Rev. Dr. Makram also put the solution in the hands of religious leaders, saying that the religious knowledge of these leaders and the religious discourse had to be renewed and revised, as the lack of knowledge in religious persons easily led to political disputes.
Participants also joined with the speakers on their proposed solutions, adding to them in expressing their strong wishes that the Egyptian government take actions promptly and act in a manner comparative in strength to the heinousness of the attack and the threat its reoccurrence posed. One suggestion was that religious discourse be revised and that it be expanded to become “Enlightening Discourse,” adding to the people’s knowledge of other cultures and their ideologies. Another idea raised was the strong warning against harmonizing and intentionally equating Christians with Muslims as each had specific circumstances and decisions and laws based on compromising between the two religions would not be in the best interest of Egyptians. It was stressed that reformation had to be a comprehensive system with positive steps being taken by all stakeholders working together.