A short memorandum circulated last week by the Ministry of [Muslim] Religious Endowments to all the mosques affiliated to it and the sheikhs who serve there ordered that none of them was to deal with the Evangelical Church in Egypt without going back to the Ministry first
A short memorandum circulated last week by the Ministry of [Muslim] Religious Endowments to all the mosques affiliated to it and the sheikhs who serve there ordered that none of them was to deal with the Evangelical Church in Egypt without going back to the Ministry first. The Ministry’s move aroused huge criticism on the part liberals who call for more sympathetic relations between the Church and Islamic establishments.
The Maspero Youth Union issued a statement in which it blamed the move on the wide Ikhwanisation—Ikhwan is Arabic for [Muslim] Brothers (MB)—of the State by the ruling Islamist regime the main figures among which, including President Mursi, belong the MB. They were alluding to the fact that the new Religious Endowments Minister is now the MB Talaat Afifi.
MYU spokesman Andrawus Uweida said the move was typical of the MB policy of driving wedges in the relations between Muslims and Christians in order to polarise the nation along religious lines by promoting hatred and hostility.
The lawyer Samir Sabry has taken the matter to court. In his presentation of the case he said the memo was a disgrace to all Egyptians since it worked to destroy the age-old social fabric of the nation by fostering hostility between Muslims and Copts. He claimed that the memo jeopardised the social peace of the community and threatened to take it to the brink of civil war.
A spokesman for the Endowments Ministry, however, said that representatives of the Ministry will be paying visits to the various Evangelical churches in Egypt to explain that the memo was not meant to disrupt the cordial relations between the Ministry and the Church; only to regulate moves that individual sheikhs may decide to take on their own.
There has been rampant conjecture that what brought on the memo was the famous coordination between the sheikh of Omar Makram mosque Mazhar Shahin and the Rev. Sameh Maurice of the Evangelical church of Qasr al-Dubara, both of which lie on the outskirts of Tahrir Square. Sheikh Shahin was suspended without any explanation on the part of the Ministry, giving rise to talk that he might have overstepped his limits.
12 April 2013
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