The church in Egypt: The young people from Tahrir Square need to be involved now
By Oliver Maksan
Father Rafik Greiche, head of the press office of the Egyptian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said: “The ousting of President Morsi is a joyous day for Christians.”
Father Rafik Greiche, head of the press office of the Egyptian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, emphasised that the military’s ousting of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was not a coup d’état. “The army carried out the will of the people. They expressed this unequivocally over the last few days through millions of signatures and massive demonstrations in Cairo and throughout the entire country,” the Greek-Catholic priest commented during a talk on Thursday 4th July with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “A number of western media are now presenting it as a coup d’état. But a putsch happens when officers take power and act without the endorsement of the people. But this is exactly what did not happen in Egypt yesterday. Moreover, the army wanted to prevent the bloodshed the Muslim brothers were threatening. This is why they took action.”
(Father Rafik Greiche © Aid to the Church in Need)
On Wednesday evening, the chief of the Egyptian armed forces, General Al-Sisi, announced in a televised address that head of state Mohamed Morsi had been removed from office with immediate effect and an interim government would be formed until new parliamentary and presidential elections could be held. Furthermore, the constitution adopted last December had been suspended. Christian and secular Egyptians had repeatedly criticised the Islamist tendencies of the text that had been adopted by referendum in December of last year.
“The ousting of Morsi and the political new beginning is a joyous day for us Christians in Egypt and for all Egyptians. We hope that we will not be excluded from the political process that lies before us.” It is too early to speculate about the future of the Islamist Muslim brotherhood. However, their failure was apparent to all Egyptians, he stressed. “The Muslim brothers were not ready to govern. Moreover, their focus was on setting up an Islamic caliphate and not first and foremost on Egypt. The people were no longer willing to accept this.” However, Father Greiche worries that the Muslim brothers who were ousted from power may take revenge and cause unrest. The first instances of Islamist violence against Christian institutions have already taken place in this context, according to Father Greiche. “Attacks were carried out against a Catholic church near Minya yesterday and the day before that. The building was slightly damaged and particularly Christian businesses in the surrounding area were affected.”
Father Greiche further emphasised that it is now the job of Azhar University in Cairo, the most important Islamic institution in the country, to return the young people who were misled by the ideology of the Muslim brothers to the right path. “Yes, Egypt is a religious country. That is true for both Muslims and Christians. However, Egyptians are not fundamentalists,” Father Greiche said.
Overall, Father Greiche is optimistic about Egypt’s political future. “The non-Islamist opposition has found a new unity. What will be decisive, however, is that politics are led by the youth and not vice versa. The young people from Tahrir Square need to be involved now. They must not be excluded again as they were after the revolution in 2011.”
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 172 languages and 50 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
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