AFRICA/EGYPT - For Copt Catholic Bishop Antonios Mina the anti-Islamist terrorism Conference at al-Azhar was “epochal”

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - “The conference organised at the University of al-Azhar to condemn terrorism and extremism of Islamist matrix , was an event of historic importance. However I am not sure whether or not it was noticed by anyone in western societies ”. This was how Copt Catholic Bishop Anba Antonios Aziz Mina of Guizeh, described to Fides, the importance of an international convention organised at Cairo University – considered the most important centre of Sunni Muslim theology – to reflect on the controversial question of relations between the Muslim world and Islamist tinted extremism. Participants included 700 scholars and representatives of political, social and religious institutions– also leaders of eastern Christian communities - from 120 different countries (see Fides 3/12/2014).
“This is the first time, - said Bishop Anba Antonios – that such an influential Islamic institution openly declares that theories used by terrorists and extremists to justify with the Koran violent activity, are a perversion of genuine Islam. Until now Islamic institutions and academies have almost always been timid in condemning such tendencies. Condemnation came only in the face of major terroristic acts and usually referred to one specific act of violence. Now the target is the entire rotten ideology which lies behind strategies of Islamist extremism. This is an important step and let us hope it may produce concrete fruits”.
The Coptic Catholic Bishop of Guizeh told Fides about the appreciation shown by Conference participants for the intervention by Paul Youssef Matar, Maronite Archbishop of Beirut: “Archbishop Matar - Anba Antonios reported – spoke without a text, and focussed on a few concepts of vital importance. He asked all Muslims to have the same respect for Christians that was shown by the prophet Mohammad himself. He recalled that for every sincere Muslim, Christians and Jews are ‘people of the Book’ who can never be considered members of a minority to subdue or maltreat, and even less as enemies. He also called all Muslims to unite and make their own indispensable contribution towards building peaceful cohabitation”. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 4/12/2014).