Egypt: Cardinal Naguib Denounces the Rise of the Islamists

Source: FSSPX News

Cardinal Antonios Naguib – Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, born in Minya (Upper Egypt) on March 7, 1935 – was invited to speak at the 5th National Day of Awareness and Prayer for Christians victim to discrimination and persecutions, organized at Saint Nicolas Cathedral in Fribourg (Switzerland) by Help to the Church in Distress (AED – l'Aide à l'Eglise en Détresse) on October 29 and 30, 2011.  On this occasion, canon Nicolas Betticher, Vicar General of the diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, recalled that Sunday, October 30, was the 51st anniversary of the cardinal's priestly ordination.

The Coptic Catholic patriarch declared that during the Bishops' Synod for the Middle-East, in October 2010, in Rome, the synodal Fathers never once used the word “persecution” when speaking of the situation of Christians in this region of the world.  “But that does not mean that all is well or that there are no problems...”

Out of the 88 million inhabitants of present day Egypt, almost 9 million are Christian, mostly Orthodox Coptics.  The country's 7 Catholic churches count about 250,000 faithful, essentially Coptic Catholics.  The Christians of Egypt, if they are not persecuted properly speaking, have to face many interdictions imposed by the Koran and the Sharia, the Islamic jurisprudence.  Cardinal Naguib also mentioned other painful problems for Christians: school and university manuals that offend or openly attack Christians and the Christian faith.  The State media offers no Christian religious programs, except Christmas and Easter Mass, while Muslim religious programs are broadcasted day and night.

During the first period of the revolution that deposed President Hosni Moubarak, “the marvelous phenomenon was that it did not touch religion...on the contrary, it reinforced the bonds between Muslims and Christians,” claimed the patriarch Antonios Naguib.  “In the churches and in the mosques everyone was praying for the return of peace and order.  Many Christians and Muslims lived together in a spirit of cooperation and friendship.  We hoped for a new era of brotherhood.  Unfortunately, this lovely dream did not last long!”  Now, he regrets, Islamic fundamentalists have come out of the woods and attacks against the Christians are repeated, for example those against the Church of the Martyrs, in Sôl, in the south of Cairo, on March 8, or St. Menas Church in Embaba, Cairo, on May 7, and on September 30, St. George's Church in Marinab.  Then there were the Christian protests in Cairo which ended in the death of 30 persons and left 329 wounded, while “all the clues show that the attack was planned.  Television reporters urged the attack against peacefully protesting Christians, while the authorities incriminated the Coptics!”

On being questioned by the press agency Apic, Cardinal Antonios Naguib answered that he nonetheless has confidence in the friendship between Muslims and Christians in the Egyptian society.  Christians have shown a new face “full of energy, of daring and of perseverance,” and Muslim writers ask in the press for the establishment of a State of democratic rights, guaranteeing equality for all.  “This is a great chance for dialogue that we must grasp.”  “Among the Muslim Brothers in Egypt we meet honest and moderate persons, but this is neither the majority nor is it a reflection of the official doctrine...”

The cardinal recalled that before the new Constitution that President Anouar el-Sadate drew up in 1971, Sharia was only one source of legislation.  And if this President made peace with Israël, we have to admit that this peace was also beneficial for Egypt.  But, he added in this interview, another aspect is forgotten: he freed the Muslim Brothers from prison, closed his eyes to their activities...

Fr. Henri Boulad, former superior of the Jesuits in Alexandria, now living in Cairo, also voiced his worries to the AED, on October 19.  “I think that the army is infiltrated by Islamists.  We are at a worrisome turning point.  The revolution has really been taken over by the fundamentalists,” he claimed.  The Egyptian Jesuit denounced the media's manipulation of opinion.  “The rebels are unanimously presented as liberals who want democracy.  But rather than democracies, it is Islamist regimes that are going to take over.  I think that the intervention of the West in the scenarios of the Arab countries is dictated by economical and financial interests.  There is a total lack of objectivity.  Does the West realize that in establishing all these regimes in the Arab world, it is preparing for itself a bitter future?  No one understands the true measure of the power, organization and determination of these Islamists.”

And he declares without beating around the bush:  “I am surprised to see to what point the Church and the western people have let themselves be taken in by the politically correct concerning Islam.  Islam should be able to auto-criticize itself.  In Egypt, all moderate voices are silenced under the pretext that they are not faithful to the right tradition: Wahhabism.” (sources: apic/aed – DICI#244, Nov 11, 2011)

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