In Egypt the man of peace is sowing peace again.
On Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi repeated last year’s visit to an Orthodox Christmas Mass. He showed up, unannounced, in Cairo’s Coptic Cathedral where Egyptian Pope Tawadros II was celebrating Christmas Eve Mass.
Al-Sisi has a pattern of such bold acts, all the more courageous against the backdrop of ISIS and jihadist violence. Besides his first visit to Egypt’s largest Orthodox church last January, he has also called on Egypt’s religious leaders to lead a global reform of Islam.
In addition to attending this Christmas mass, al-Sisi took the opportunity to apologize to the Coptic Christians, on behalf of Muslims, for the abuse and suffering they have experienced from the hands of Muslim radicals.
Coptic Christians in Egypt receive a Muslim apology
Here are excerpts from the transcript of al-Sisi’s message to the church (which reads more like a declaration to the world):
I would like to say a few brief words … please, allow me… It was necessary for me to come and present my wishes to you. I hope that I am not interrupting your prayers. I wanted to tell you something… Throughout millennia, Egypt brought humanism and civilization to the whole world…. And I’d like to tell you that the world is looking to Egypt even now, in this day and age and in the present circumstances, ….
I thank you very, very much but honestly, I don’t want his Holiness the Pope to be upset with me. Listen, it is very important that the world should see us… that the world should see us, Egyptians… and you’ll note that I never use a word other than ‘Egyptians’…. It’s not right to call each other by any other name…. We are Egyptians. Let no one ask ‘what kind of Egyptian are you? (from what religious denomination?)
Please…please…listen to me…with these words we are showing the world the meaning of …we are opening a space for genuine hope and light. As I said, Egypt has brought a humanistic and civilizing message to the world for millennia and we’re here today to confirm that we are capable of doing so again. Yes, a humanistic and civilizing message should once more emanate from Egypt. This is why we mustn’t call ourselves anything other than ‘Egyptians’. This is what we must be — Egyptians, just Egyptians, Egyptians indeed!
This is another al-Sisi milestone. He is making history as he seeks to restore Egypt to her greatness as a center of culture and academic excellence, the leader of the Muslim world. Jihadists seek to impose a Sharia state with the sword; al-Sisi seeks to restore Egyptian leadership on the world stage in the context of ideas and vision. He envisions a pluralistic society where Egyptian Coptic and evangelical Christians live alongside Egyptian Muslims as one people. He calls for a united Egypt.
To read more go here.
Or watch the (Arabic language) video of al-Sisi’s visit.
Al-Sisi is perhaps the most courageous Muslim leader in the Middle East and perhaps one of the most visionary Muslims in the world today.
Pray for his protection. Pray that his initiatives will germinate and take root in Egypt and in the larger Middle East. Pray that the Prince of Peace would come into the brokenness and conflict of the Middle East.
- Darrow Miller