Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Egyptian President Calls For Unity and Islamic Reform As Coptic Christmas Is Celebrated

Today is the date on which Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas.  Egyptian Streets reports that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has become the first Egyptian President to attend Christmas Mass. In an unannounced visit to Cairo's Abbasiya Cathedral, al-Sisi extended Christmas greetings and urged Egyptians to remain united. His appearance comes after masked gunmen yesterday shot and killed two policemen guarding a Coptic Christian church in the southern Egyptian city of Minya. (Al Ahram)

Meanwhile, Middle East Forum reports on a speech made by al-Sisi on New Year's Day before Al-Azhar and the Awqaf Ministry calling for a different vision for Islam. Al-Sisi said in part:
It's inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!
... [T]hat corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years... is antagonizing the entire world.... Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world's inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!
... I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.
[Thanks to Geoff Rapp for the leaad.]