• 11/03/2020

Within the framework of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services’ interest in international dialogue, the Intercultural Dialogue Forum organized the seventh round of Egyptian-American dialogue, in partnership with the Handers Foundation, the United Church of Christ, the Church of the Disciples of Christ, the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, and the Council of Churches of All America.
The delegation included Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki, President of Protestant Churches and Chairman of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services, Mr. Sayed Al-Sharif, First Deputy Parliament and Head of the Supervisory Syndicate, Representative Dr. Emad Gad, Representative Ms. Dalia Youssef, Deputy Ms. Nadia Henry, and Mr. Mahmoud Muslim, Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper Al-Watan, Mr. Mahmoud Al-Qott, member of the Youth Party Coordination Committee, and Ms. Samira Luka, Senior Director of the Dialogue Forum at the Evangelical Organization.
On Monday, March 2, the delegation met in a dialogue session entitled "Dialogue between the Role of Actors on Religion," organized in cooperation with the United Nations agencies concerned with religion and development, and the "Religions for Peace International" Foundation.
The main speakers in this session were Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki, President of Protestant Churches in Egypt, Chairman of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services; Mr. Syed Al-Sharif, First Deputy Parliament and President of the Supervisory Syndicate; and Reverend Elizabeth Eaton, Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States, Reverend Karen Georgia Thompson, Assistant Pastor of International Fellowship and Executive Director of the Church of the Disciples of Christ, USA, and Dr. Taranjit Singh Puttalia, President of Religions for Peace, USA and former Secretary-General of the World Sikh Council, America region.
During the meeting, Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki spoke about several important issues in Egyptian affairs, such as the representation of Copts in parliament, the efforts of the Egyptian government to fight terrorism, and the positive impact of this on the Egyptian street and Egyptian citizens in defining the Egyptian national identity and restoring the concept of the nation-state.
His speech also addressed monitoring of the positive developments taking place in the Islamic-Christian relations in Egypt. In his speech, the Chairman of the Evangelical Organization also referred to the unprecedented measures and decisions that were taken on several issues that are of interest to Copts, such as the personal status law, the law on building and organizing churches, and the law establishing an endowment body for Coptic Evangelicals.
This is besides the most important aspects that reflect the state's interest, starting with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, such as the interest in building a church next to the mosque in all-new population centers, and the president's visits to the church in Christmas over the past five years for congratulation. He is the first Egyptian president to visit Christians to congratulate them on Christmas.
Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki affirmed that "The state is keen in securing all Copts' celebrations, events, and conferences," noting that these appearances "clearly reflect the state's consideration of establishing the values of citizenship and coexistence as a priority in forming the Egyptian personality's awareness. These things have positive reflects on the state of coexistence within society." He affirmed: "If the situation in Egypt continues to progress, the whole society will become stronger, and the future will be brighter as the next generation of Egyptian leaders is being developed."
In his speech, Mr. Sayed Al-Sharif said, "The issues of tolerance, peace, raising the value of citizenship, and correcting religious discourse are the most important things we need to talk about." He added, "The interests of nations are at the core of the purposes of religions, and that preserving the homeland and building the national state is one of the six most important majors that must be preserved and that are related to Islamic thought and religion, namely: religion, the homeland, the soul, the mind, money, and honor."
Mr. Sayed affirmed that "Modern state of citizenship and the contract of citizenship are the solutions and the most important guarantees for achieving peaceful coexistence, global peace, societal stability and the jurisprudence of coexistence."
He also asserted this by saying: "The Egyptian experience of citizenship, peaceful coexistence and tolerance among all sects and religions is a unique and unprecedented one in the history of all humanity. Its foundations were laid by His Excellency President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi through achieving the principle of full and real justice among all citizens. El-Sisi is the first president of the republic to care and insist on citizenship, dialogue, and the renewal of religious discourse as something imposed by circumstances, events in various fields of life.
"He added," All Egyptians are equal in rights and duties under a constitution that does not differentiate between them upon considerations of religion, color, gender, or sect. He also praised "The efforts of the Family House Initiative" and its firm role in activating more cooperation between Al-Azhar and the Egyptian Church by proposing initiatives to overcome differences, fight extremism and achieve cooperation to enhance the value of national unity."
He referred to the role played by the House of Representatives in these issues through the enactment of many legislation aimed at establishing the principles of citizenship, tolerance, unleashing religious freedoms, and on the top, "The regulating law of churches' construction and restoration." He affirmed: "Members of parliament aspire to build a community of love, peace, tolerance and peaceful coexistence in pursuit of a better life for our peoples and the future that is safe for our children."
Then the delegation met with the Archbishop of the Lutheran Church Elizabeth Iten, and the President of the United Church of Christ John Dorhor in an open dialogue on political and social developments in the United States and the role of the Church, and also met the Egyptian Ambassador of the United Nations Mission, Ambassador Mohamed Idris, delegated Minister Hani Nagy, and Consultant Ahmed Rahmi at the headquarters of the Egyptian Consulate in New York.
The dialogue dealt with developments in Egypt and their positive impact on coexistence. The attendees stressed the importance of continuing such initiatives that represent the local community's initiatives.
On the morning of Tuesday, March 3, the delegation met with ecumenical religious leaders. A dialogue took place on the youth's future in Egypt and the mechanisms of empowering them, as they represent more than 50% of the population.
There was also a dialogue about the Renaissance Dam and the available opportunities to Egypt in this regard. The delegation emphasized the importance of development in Ethiopia and Egypt's historical rights in the waters of the Nile and the international community's role in achieving the international agreement in this regard.
The dialogue extended to include the role of women in Egypt and their influence in bringing about community peace. There was also a discussion about terrorism and its impact on Sinai. The dialogue also dealt with the Islamic-Christian relations in Egypt and the challenges of coexistence.
Then the delegation headed to Washington on Wednesday, 4 March, met the Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Reda, Egypt's ambassador in the United States, and held a dialogue about the situation in the United States concerning the Egyptian issue of the Renaissance Dam.
The delegation also met 6 leaders of the US Congress, and they are:
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler.
She represents the people of the fourth congressional district in Missouri State, which consists of 24 counties/districts in western-central Missouri. She serves on the Armed Services and Agriculture Committees.
Congressman Steve Chabot
He represented the first county in Ohio in his twelfth term. He previously served as a Cincinnati City Councilor and Hamilton County Commissioner for nearly 5 years in every position before his election to Congress in 1994.
Congressman Jody Hice
A prominent member of the Parliament's oversight committee.
Congressman David Eugene Price
An American politician who has served as the representative of the United States in the Fourth Congressional District in North Carolina since 1997, and he previously held this position from 1987 to 1995. He is a member of the Democratic Party, representing a county that includes Orange County and parts of other counties. He is the dean of the congressional delegation in North Carolina.
Congressman Christopher Henry Smith
An American politician who is currently working in his twentieth term as the United States representative in the Fourth Congressional District in New Jersey has served since 1981. He is a member of the Republican Party. Nominated and twice confirmed to serve as a US delegation member to the United Nations General Assembly.
Congressman Jeffrey Lane Fortenberry
He is the US representative for the 1st congressional district in Nebraska since 2005. He is a member of the Republican Party and is the current congressman of the Nebraska delegation.
The dialogues took place in these meetings on the following issues:
1. The Egyptian people's historical rights in the Nile waters and the importance of reaching a fair agreement on the water issue in a way that guarantees development for Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt.
2. Islamic-Christian relations and the extent of development in this regard. The challenges facing coexistence, the importance of the Egyptian model of coexistence, and political leadership's role in promoting citizenship, supporting pluralism and accepting, the other.
3. Public freedoms, especially religious freedoms, the Church Building Law, and the achievements made in this regard.
4. Recent constitutional amendments and increasing the percentage of women's representation in parliament and youth and Coptic representation.
5. Legislation that the Egyptian Parliament implemented to support coexistence, women, and youth and establish a community of law.
The delegation also met in a round table dialogue with the Council of All American Churches. In the beginning, each of Dr. S. Andrea Zaki and the First Representative of Parliament, Mr. Al-Sharif, expressed their thanks to the Council and the role that Egypt's political leadership plays in supporting coexistence.
Several leaders of those who are interested in Egypt and the Middle East had participated. A profound dialogue took place about the role that American churches could play in the United States to support Egypt in the issue of the Renaissance Dam, Egypt's stability in its confrontation with terrorism, the role the Egyptian leadership plays in entrenching concepts of citizenship, the new legislation approved by Parliament regarding the law on building churches as well as the establishment of endowments bodies for evangelicals and Catholics. Invitation for the American churches to visit Egypt was offered.
The delegation also met the Ambassador of Religious Freedom, Ambassador Mr. Buck Brown. A dialogue took place on the role which the political leadership plays in supporting religious freedoms in Egypt and the direct results of the Church Building Law, as well as the Personal Status Law, which is in the preparation stage, and the political leadership's confirmation of the building a mosque and a church in Each new city, the progress in Islamic-Christian relations in Egypt, and the importance of dealing with limited sectarian problems in a realistic and practical framework and avoiding the dangers of generalization.
The dialogue dealt with the judicial rulings issued against some extremists in assaulting Copts during the past two years and how the law was applied, contributing to equality and societal stability.
The delegation also met with the US State Department, headed by Catherine Kaiser, Acting Director of the Office of Egypt. A lengthy discussion took place about the Renaissance Dam, the role the US External State Department plays in this issue, the need to preserve Egypt's historical rights in the waters of the Nile, and affirm that damaging these rights will affect One hundred million Egyptians.
The State Department stated that the United States' role in this regard is the observer's role and not the mediator. The delegation affirmed its belief in the importance of development for Ethiopia without this being at the expense of Egyptian rights and the need for the United States to push all parties to sign the agreement drawn up last week in Washington. The delegation affirmed that "it expresses an Egyptian popular voice that is very concerned about the lack of agreement on the Renaissance Dam issue." The Egypt office director affirmed that she would convey the delegation's viewpoint to this issue's stakeholders.