News from Egypt

Given all the things that have been said and written about Egypt in the recent months, is very significant that the media have dedicated only four lines to the recent death of Pope Shenuda III, who had been for four decades, the patriarch of the Church of Alexandria, the 117th in history. In addition, the four lines that you they have dedicated to him focus to emphasize the closeness of Shenuda to the former president Hosni Mubarak.

True, Shenuda, who died on March 17 to 88 years, was a man of the regime. In a dictatorship, anyone who occupies a position of political or social relevance is complicit, to some extent, to the status quo. However, Pope Shenuda defended his community as well as he could, or he knew and suffered exile after facing the president Anwar al-Sadat, because he didn’t protect the Christian community from attacks of Islamists. In fact, all the presidents of Egypt have turned a blind eye to human rights violations when the victims have been the Christians.

Regarding the last months of his life, Shenuda received attacks from the outside to appear critical of the popular uprising that forced the flight of Mubarak. When, form inside his community, he was attacked for not being firm enough to the anti-Christian attacks of the Islamists and the army. What Shenuda could do? He could criticize Mubarak in order to make the Westerners happy? Or he could analyze the situation and assess what is the best scenario for his congregation? Some critics claim that he agreed with Mubarak the amnesty of the authorities, and was allowed to return from exile in exchange for moderate the criticism of the regime. Although we have no evidence of that, we can not discard an agreement of this nature, because given the violence and the laws against religious freedoms that exist in Egypt, it would be normal that the leader of the Coptic Church maintained a belligerent position against the dictatorship. The problem of the Copts of Egypt is that they have been too much time immersed in the dilemma of choosing between the bad and what they sense to be worse. That is, the fact of being against Mubarak doesn’t mean to be in favor of the changes taking place in Egypt.

Regarding the impact of Shenuda on our geographical and cultural closest environment, the media might have remembered that he was the first Coptic Orthodox pope who visited the Vatican in 1500 years. On the other hand, he was a strong advocate of ecumenism, which is a movement towards the reunification of all Christian denominations, and maintained open channels of dialogue with various churches. We can consider that the informative value of this is relative, but we can not in any way, underestimate it and place it below other similar initiatives, such as dialogues between civilizations or the Euro-Mediterranean, which have appear so much in the media.

Author: Jordi Llaonart



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2 thoughts on “News from Egypt

  1. Interesting point of view. Although I don’t think many Egyptians would agree about what you say about the sectarian tensions.


  2. Pingback: May be controversial, but interesting indeed.

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