The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit met with Egyptâ€™s Grand Mufti Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim in Cairo. In their meeting the religious leaders engaged in in-depth dialogue to promote peaceful relations among diverse communities and values for equal citizenship.
They met at the office of Dar Al-Itfa Al-Misriyya on Monday 22 April.
Speaking with the WCC general secretary, Abdel-Karim pointed out the common roots and experiences of both Muslims and Christians living together for centuries in Egypt, which he said should be the basis of a constructive engagement for promoting peaceful relations.
â€œWe are a family, and our personal relations do not merely reflect in our faith identities in Egypt. We have been neighbours for centuries, interlocked in close proximity as religious communities,â€ said the Grand Mufti, who is also a professor in Islamic jurisprudence.
He went on to say that â€œalliances between Christians and Muslims are not only possible but already exist on the ground among ordinary people in their everyday lives. The values of honesty, trust and respect are shared among people of both Christian and Muslim faiths.â€
Tveit endorsed the importance of a shared vision for peaceful relations, saying, â€œWe reflect together with our Muslim partners on what it means to be a Christian or Muslim in the world today while faced with divisions which are perceived as tensions between us.â€ This is why cooperation with other faiths is an intrinsic part of our aspirations for Christian unity, he added.
â€œWe share a vision of peaceful relations among communities and hope for a common future, where living together as equal citizens in a democracy is possible. Therefore I see the role of religious leaders as an extremely important one to translate this vision into reality,â€ said Tveit.
In his response, Abdel-Karim said, â€œWe share your vision for peace on earth. And we strongly affirm the equality of all Egyptian citizens regardless of their religious associations. In our work we have taken concrete actions through different projects to bring diverse groups together and eliminate the eminent tensions between the communities.
â€œThe powers sowing seeds of divisions should be curtailed,â€ added the Grand Mufti.
Tveit was in Egypt for a two-day visit to the WCC member churches, following recent attacks against St Markâ€™s Cathedral in Cairo. He met with Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Rev. Dr Safwat Al-Bayyadi, president of the Protestant Churches of Egypt, Bishop Munir Anise, Anglican bishop in Egypt, and other church leaders.
Tveit also attended an event organized by the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services, where he addressed a diverse audience representing churches, interfaith networks and Muslim organizations in Cairo. He interacted with the local media, speaking on issues related to religious freedom, inter-religious dialogue and cooperation between Christian and Muslim networks.