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Coptic Christians in Egypt: Standing at the Crossroads 4 August , 2011

On the morning of January, 28th, 2011 — the morning of the “Friday of Anger” protests in Egypt — I was attending Friday mass at the Coptic Orthodox church next to home. I still remember vividly how people at church on that day were praying and pleading due to fear and anxiety over the unstable situation in Egypt. I waited anxiously for the priest to send a clear message through his sermon. I wanted him to tell the people how they should react to what’s happening in Egypt now and what role they should play. Instead, he pointed out the role that Christians should not play. In a light tone that doesn’t match the seriousness of the topic, he said:

“We Christians have nothing to do with what is happening in the streets these days, ok? Don’t tell me we’re going to the streets and protesting. I urge every family to take its son and daughter and go directly home, make a nice breakfast and switch on the TV; at least, this is what I’m going to do.”

The priest’s comment was followed by soft laughter from the audience. I felt outraged.



Egypt: Muslim and Christian Elders Work to Promote Interfaith Relations 16 May , 2011

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A group of Christian and Muslim Elders in Egypt are working to promote interfaith relationship and diffuse tension between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.

One of the members of the group Wael Mohamed Saleh and member of the Islamist group Gamaa Islamiyah said that he and other Muslim peacemakers helped to avoid mayhem after a Muslim youth was severely beaten at the funeral of the Christian priest Anba Daoud Boutrous who was stabbed to death in February. He and other Muslim peacemakers had managed to convince an irate Muslim mob not to avenge the beating of the Muslim.

Madgy Maher, a Christian member of the group said that some of the mourners at the funeral of Anba Daoud Boutrous had identified the Muslim at the graveyard by his beard, a sign that he was a Muslim. When the Christian mourners began beating the Muslim, Maher tried to intervene, but the young Muslim was badly beaten.



Christians in Middle East foster Inter-Religious Dialogue for Peace 11 May , 2011

Christians in Lebanon and Syria are concerned about what is happening between Christians and Muslims in Egypt and its impact on the region, says a Lebanese Presbyterian educator.

“Stories from Egypt scare us that a focus on religious issues will create enmity between peoples,” says Najla Kassab who works with a church-based education programme serving parishes in Lebanon and Syria.

Kassab believes that violence in Egypt on Saturday – when 12 Christians were killed by Muslims and two churches burned – raises the need for churches to play a role in reconciliation and dialogue in the wake of the revolutions that are sweeping countries in the Middle East.

“We are at a time of questioning how change can happen in our diverse countries in a healthy way,” Kassab says. “Churches can help create opportunities for change through dialogue rather than violence.”



Passover: a Seder invitation to all 18 April , 2011

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Passover is not simply a Jewish holiday; it is an invitation to be free and a method for achieving freedom.

The holiday of Passover takes it’s name, according to the Hebrew Bible, from the ancient Israelites last night in Egypt. On that night, some 3,200 years ago if the story is historically accurate, God “passed over” the houses of those leaving Egypt, sparing them from the last of the ten plagues: the death of the first born Egyptians. The Hebrew name for Passover is Pesach, from the word meaning to pass over.

Passover celebrates more than a one-time liberation though, inviting each succeeding generation to confront the oppression and slavery of it’s own era. Passover celebrates freedom — past, present and future, both national and personal. And it’s surely not limited to Jews as both the Bible and later rabbinic commentaries portray as much as 20 percent of those participating in the exodus as having been non-Israelites.  READ MORE


Egyptian revolution brings show of religious unity after tensions 21 February , 2011

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The surge of popular unity that toppled Hosni Mubarak last week has eased tension between Egypt’s Muslims and the Coptic Christian minority and raised hopes for lasting harmony. Muslims and Christians joined hands and formed human shields to protect each other from riot police as members of the different faiths prayed during the protests in Cairo.

Alongside banners demanding Mubarak’s resignation and an end to emergency rule, protesters held aloft posters of the Christian cross and Islamic crescent together against the red white and black of Egypt’s flag.

“Egypt has been victorious over what they called sectarian strife,” respected Muslim preacher Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi told millions gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square on Friday. “Here in Tahrir, the Christian and Muslim stood side by side,” he said. “This cursed strife is no more.” READ MORE



Eboo Patel via Washington Post: From 9/11 to January 25th 16 February , 2011

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A few years ago I did a cable television interview on the youth bulge in majority-Muslim countries. It’s a huge group, I told the anchor, and they have the potential to make a really positive contribution to the world.

The images played on the screen during my interview were of young people doing training exercises at a terrorist camp – images in total contradiction to my message. I was livid. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then everything I was saying was totally drowned out. When I brought it up with one of the staff he just shrugged and said it was likely just the B-roll most readily available.
That’s when it hit me. This isn’t just a problem with the type of B-roll cable television has handy, this is a problem with the B-roll most readily available in our minds. The images that come up in too many people’s heads when they hear the terms “Muslim” or “Muslim youth” or “the Muslim world” is of suicide bombers or planes flying into the World Trade Center.

Eighteen days in Egypt changed all that.



From HuffPost: Brian D. McLaren: The Egyptian Revolution and Theological Reformation

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It’s risky to make historical comparisons. If we say, “This event is exactly the same as that event,” our comparison blinds us to the uniqueness of a historical moment. But if we say, “This event is in some ways like that event,” our comparison can help us see meaningful resonances and patterns of historical, theological, and spiritual significance.

I’ve heard a few folks offer comparisons regarding the amazing events that have unfolded in Egypt over the last few weeks, including the Tea Party (the original one in Boston, that is), the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the struggle against Apartheid. But I’ve been especially interested in comparisons to the Protestant Reformation.



Ashley Makar via CNN BeliefBlog: My Take: Why Egypt’s Christians are hopeful but nervous 10 February , 2011

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Photos from Cairo show triumphant hands in the air – some raising up Coptic Christian crosses, others holding up Qurans.

Egyptian Christians and Muslims gathered together this week to pray for those who’ve died in the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

Muslims formed a protective circle around Christians as they prayed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday, just as Christian protesters had done for Muslims during last Friday’s prayers.


VIDEO Martin Luther King on Egypt Protests

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A great collage of the Egyptian protests to the sound of the teachings of Martin Luther King.


World Faith Director Frank Fredericks Quoted in the Hindustani Times 3 February , 2011

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World Faith Executive Director Frank Fredericks’ Washington Post op-ed: The Egyptian Revolution, An Interfaith Movement was quoted in the article “Egyptian Uprising is Not Religious But Spiritual” in the Hindustani Times. Thank you to author Gautam Chickermane for the link back!

Egyptian Uprising is Not Religious But Spiritual

A lot of people have commented on my post yesterday, where I wondered whether the Egyptian uprising was Islamic. Many visitors have posted their comments, some of them rather strong, supporting and opposing the idea. I personally don’t think the uprising has anything to do with religion. In fact, if religion has to be dragged into this revolt, it has to do with the realisation of a new religion in the region — freedom. Beyond that, I believe, it is the spirit of the nation that’s behind this physical regime change call.

Coincidentally, the Egyptian uprising comes in the first World Interfaith Harmony Week, to promote dialogue and civility among the world’s religions. And almost as if it is part of a greater scheme of things, the Egyptian rebellion — following Tunisia and now spewing into Yemen — has become an interfaith movement.
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