Friday, 21 November 2003

Alexandria of Egypt (Fides Service)- “This cannot be labelled as religious Muslim terrorism since its victims are also Muslims” Bishop Giuseppe Bausardo, Apostolic Vicar of Alexandria of Egypt told Fides with regard to recent bomb explosions in Turkey at two synagogues and a British Consulate and bank, in which most of those killed were Muslims. Also recent bombings in Ryad, Saudi Arabia, killed Muslim families originally from other Arab countries.
“Here in Egypt, despite international tension because of the latest terrorist attacks, the situation is apparently calm. Egypt is a country with a long tradition of religious tolerance and harmony among different faiths and this is undoubtedly a decisive factor in difficult times such as these”.
“The role of Christian communities in Muslim countries is to build bridges between the faiths” the Bishop told Fides. “The Church’s social assistance works among Muslims are a way of bearing witness to Christ’s love for all men and women. Schools, hospitals, dispensaries put us into daily contact with our Muslim brothers and sisters and foster reciprocal respect. Schools in particular, are very important because it is here that the two cultures meet and this is fundamental to isolate extremism of any tendency and promote a culture of peace ”.
“With regard to the Catholic community in Alexandria of Egypt it should be remembered that it is one of the oldest in the world ” said Mgr Bausardo. “All together there are about 250,000 of various rites. The largest is the Copt Catholic community, followed by a Latin rite community of about 35,000 most of whom are refugees from the war in Southern Sudan. The Egyptian government has shown understanding and humanitarian spirit in accepting these people who are practically destitute when they arrive”.
One of the most important Catholic institutions in Egypt is the Don Bosco Institute, opened by the Salesians in 1926. For some years Bishop Bausardo, a Salesian, was Rector of the Institute situated in Shobra district of Cairo where there is a large Christian community. The pupils, mostly Muslims, are introduced to both the Koran and the Bible in such as way as to highlight the common roots and converging teaching of the two religions. (L.M.) (Fides Service 21/11/2003, lines 34 words 403)