Egyptian Muslim Teacher Cleans Coptic Church to Promote Tolerance

alarabiyaHebaa Saad Hashash, a Muslim teacher in the city of Mallawi in Minya, started an initiative with her Muslim girl students to clean a Coptic church in order to promote peace and tolerance among Christians and Muslims.

In an interview with Al Arabiya, she said that she did it for her country and fellow Copts who have been living in harsh conditions following the recent terrorist incident on the Monastery of St. Samuel.

She added that it is her duty as an educator and school director to set an example for younger children of peace and coexistence between religions.

“The Messenger believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and His messengers.

“We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His messengers,” she said.

The initiative was praised in social media sites in Egypt, showing the photos of Muslim girls cleaning the church in Mallawi that revealed the spirit of tolerance and unity between Muslims and Copts in Egypt.

She stated that she was surprised that the images have been widely shared on social media sites.

The Christian community in Minya have always been the centre of sectarian tension. Earlier in July, the Christian community in another Minya village faced a mob of extremists attacking their church after it received approval.

FULL ARTICLE FROM EGYPTIAN STREETS.COM

 

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Egypt appoints first-ever Christian woman as governor

 — Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has sworn in several new provincial governors, including the first-ever Coptic Christian woman to hold the position.

Manal Awad Mikhail was appointed governor of Damietta province Thursday. She was previously a deputy for the Giza governor.

The reshuffle included new governors for Cairo, Giza, Luxor, Aswan and North Sinai.

Egypt had appointed the first-ever female governor to the province of Beheira in a reshuffle last year. The Beheira governor was changed in Thursday’s reshuffle.

Christians, who constitute about 10 percent of Egypt’s Muslim-majority population of 100 million, have long complained of discrimination and their under-representation in top government positions. Christians strongly supported general-turned-president el-Sissi who led the ouster of his Islamist predecessor.

Egypt’s current cabinet includes eight female ministers, the highest in the country’s modern history.

FULL ARTICLE FROM WRAL.COM

Egypt fights Islamic extremism by allowing women leaders at mosques

_7961_A2CAIRO (RNS) – Four years ago, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called on state-supported Muslim clerics “to improve the image of Islam in front of the world.”

In response, Islamic religious authorities are allowing Muslim women to be heard. Over the past three months, the clerics have announced that women can now serve as preachers in mosques and schools, serve on governing boards and sing in choirs dedicated to liturgical music.

“These measures show that Islam can grow in an open encounter with other faiths,” said Wafaa Abdelsalam, a 38-year-old female physician appointed by the government’s Ministry of Religious Endowments to give two sermons a week at a pair of influential mosques in the Cairo suburbs. “The audience for my Ramadan talks has been mostly upper-middle-class women who until recently have felt they have had nobody to talk to about how Islam fits into their lives.”

About 70 percent of mosques in Egypt have separate prayer areas for women, according to the Endowments Ministry. But the move to introduce women preachers – wa’ezzat in Arabic – marks the first time females have formally addressed worshippers in these spaces as officially sanctioned clergy.

“Religious education here is a chance for women to ask me questions about personal matters, including marriage problems, and to debate the merits and drawbacks of the choice to wear or not wear the (hijab) headscarf,” said Abdelsalam.

The wa’ezzat are following sermon guidelines set by the Endowments Ministry, she added.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGIOUS NEWS SERVICE

Soccer star Mo Salah’s massive popularity is changing perceptions of Muslims in the UK

moMohamed “Mo” Salah, who plays soccer for Liverpool, England, as well as for Egypt, has just come off a season in which he established himself as one of the most exciting players in the world. A Muslim of North African heritage, he plays, excels, and is adored in Britain, a country in which anti-Muslim sentiment is increasingly part of mainstream political and cultural discourse.

And he should be one of the stars of the upcoming 2018 World Cup later this month — if, that is, he makes it to the tournament at all. Due to a recent injury, that’s now in question.

Salah started playing organized soccer as a teenager on an Egyptian team called the Arab Contractors. He joined Egypt’s national team in 2011 at age 19 and moved to Europe the following year. His first years were promising but patchy, and to say this has been a breakout season for Salah is a massive understatement.

FULL ARTICLE FROM VOX

Is reopening of Egypt’s ‘unlicensed’ churches a step toward sectarian stability?

EGYPT-RELIGION-COPTIC-EASTERThe Egyptian Ministry of Housing has issued a decree allowing Christians to perform their prayers in unlicensed churches until they obtain permits as official houses of worship.

The decision came in response to requests submitted by representatives of Egypt’s main Churches at the committee formed in January 2017 to look into the legalization of unlicensed churches in accordance with law number 80 for the year 2016 on the construction of churches.

The Coptic Orthodox Church submitted a list of 2,600 churches and service centers that need to be official organized — 450 Anglican Churches and 120 Catholic Churches. While this step puts an end to the impasse that followed the closure of a few churches in Upper Egypt for lack of permits, it does not necessarily eliminate concerns over the eruption of more sectarian clashes.

According to the Bishop Michael Antoun, representative of the Coptic Orthodox Church at the committee in charge of legalizing unlicensed churches, representatives submitted the names of unlicensed churches to request a license.

“Our church submitted a list of 2,600 churches that needed to be legalized under the 2016 law and when we did not get the license we asked the state for an explanation,” he said. “The response was that those churches will work normally provided that their names are on the list on churches seeking license.”

The extremist threat to churches

Karim Kamal, president of the Union of Copts for Nation, said the ministry’s decision constitutes a positive step towards implementing the 2016 law on the construction of churches, which facilitates building and renovating churches and church-affiliated centers.

“However, it is important to note that the state, the governors, and the ministries of housing or interior were never our main concern,” he said. “In fact, all Copts remember how the state helped us in 2013, when the Armed Forces rebuilt the churches burnt down by the Muslim Brotherhood following the June 30 protests.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL ARABIYA

EGYPT: “NO SINGLE MINUTE IS INVESTED IN VAIN” – HOW A DOCTOR PROMOTES RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE VIA HEALTH WORK

Freddy_ElbaiadyFreddy Elbaiady has made history as a politician. But what counts most for the 46-year-old Egyptian doctor is his work at the Salam Medical Center (SMC) in El-Qanatir, north of Cairo. The bridges between Christians and Muslims that are built through this work are sustainable even in times of crisis.

Dr Elbaiady has many professions and ministries. He is a respected radiologist in Cairo, runs a medical centre in his hometown El-Qanatir, is a member of the local church council, and is involved in evangelical church politics in his capacity as one of the members of the Supreme Council of Protestant Churches in Egypt. To the wider public he became known in 2013, when he accepted an offer to join the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament as one of the few Christian members. TV news programs were and still are happy to invite him for discussions on interreligious coexistence, the role of the churches in Egypt and politics in general. No doubt, this man has influence and prestige. But if asked to talk about himself he remains reticent.

His office in the medical centre has surprisingly very simple decor. No thick desk, no leather furniture to receive guests. Dr Elbaiady receives visitors in a small room. In the rear part there is an examination table for consultation. He is content with the front as his office. Only the wooden nameplate on the small desk reveals his role as CEO. Dr Elbaiady works at a large private hospital in Cairo, where he chairs the radiology department. From there, he arrives at SMC by around 3pm, where he works until after midnight, often into the early hours of the morning. “I get along with little sleep”, he says matter-of-factly.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SIGHT MAGAZINE

Al Azhar University (Muslim)professor encourages Muslims to celebrate the spirit of Christmas

christmas-treeA professor of Comparative Fiqh at Al-Azhar University, Saad al-Helaly, encouraged the universal celebration of Christmas, saying Muslims can celebrate the festivity without following its religious elements, encouraging a sense of solidarity between Muslims and Christians.

Helaly explained that Muslims celebrating Christmas is like celebrating any other special festivity without adding religious justification or value.

“In your life, if you celebrate things like anniversary of marriage, anniversary of getting a new job, a patriotic Eid or a scientific Eid. Then you have created a happy Eid and created joy within your family or your people. You have made the people experience a beautiful day.”

He explained that a feast does not discriminate between different religions, “It is a feast – not a religious feast like Salafis claim. We won’t follow the religious aspects but feel the spirit of Christmas. There is a difference between the spirit of Christmas and a religious feast.”

“Religious feasts have ‘takbeer’ and specific rituals and a prayer,” he said, “but the spirit of Christmas is to spread joy to humankind, and make your society and people happy even one day per year. Then have you done well to mankind or no?”

Christmas, he says, is “an idea that came out and created an international market. Children wait for it: Muslims, Christians and Jews. It created an economical boost and a true feeling of the New Year; that there is a new thing, that there is a day where families come together and rejoice.”

He concluded that religion will not stand in the face of universal happiness, “Go ahead and show me all ‘fatwas’ [ruling on Islamic law recognized by an authority]! Say it is ‘haram’ [forbidden in Islam].  Has the word ‘haram’ stopped the joy from spreading?”

FULL ARTICLE FROM EGYPT INDEPENDENT