The President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, made a surprise visit St. Mark’ Cathedral on the Nativity Feast. WOW.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi visited the main Coptic Christian cathedral Tuesday during its Christmas Eve mass (Coptic Christians celebrated Christmas yesterday), “the first such visit by an Egyptian president in history” according to First Things writer Mark Movsesian. “It’s important for the world to see this scene, which reflects true Egyptian unity, and to confirm that we’re all Egyptians, first and foremost. We truly love each other without discrimination, because this is the Egyptian truth,” Sisi told service attenders.
Coptic Pop al-Tawadri thanked Sisi for his visit, calling it “a pleasant surprise and a humanitarian gesture.”
It isn’t the first such gesture that Sisi has made—in a speech celebrating the birth of Mohammed on New Year’s Day, he called on Muslim religious leaders to help fight against extremism: ”I say and repeat, again, that we are in need of a religious revolution,” he said, according to CNN. ”You imams are responsible before Allah. The entire world is waiting on you. … We need a revolution of the self, a revolution of consciousness and ethics to rebuild the Egyptian person—a person that our country will need in the near future.”…
Huge news via Breitbart! On the one hand you have people on Bill O’Reilly defending the Muslim Brotherhood, but the inserted leader of Egypt may be the beginning of what we should hear from leaders in Islamic countries. Again, this is the first leader of an Islamic country who has said publicly that Islam needs to reforms:
One of the most controversial, and yet indisputable, observations that can be made about the current state of global affairs is that Islam has problems with violence and aggression. (That’s not redundant – cultural and political aggression without physical violence are possible, and troublesome.)
This observation does not imply that all Muslims are universally violent or aggressive – that’s the straw-man argument apologists for Islam and critics of the West would rather deal with. But there are aspects of Islamic practice that make it useful to those who would pursue the path of violent domination. It doesn’t take much effort to find passages in the Koran that can serve as signposts along that path.
Contrary to the endless harangues of their domestic critics, people in the West are not comfortable with the notion of a “bad religion.” Religious tolerance is an important value across the European diaspora, and it was written into the ideological DNA of the United States. Granted, this ideal of tolerance has not always been observed with the greatest fidelity, but everyone gets the general idea that their neighbors should be respectfully allowed to pursue whatever religious faith they choose. Criticism of any faith from the outside is uncomfortable.
But here we are, looking back over quite a bit of Islamic violence around the world, unable to find parallel behavior in any other contemporary religious practice. (It’s telling that the nearly universal responses to a discussion of Islamic violence are What about the Crusades? or What about the Inquisition? Whatever else one can say about those chapters of history, they indisputably took place a long time ago.) Something is different with Islam, and not in a good way. It’s so obvious, and yet so politically incorrect to point it out, that it has reached elephant-in-the-room status.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is willing to talk about the elephant in the room, and he didn’t mince words when he spoke on the topic of Islamic violence in Cairo on New Year’s Day:
It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire Islamic world to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!
That thinking – I am not saying “religion” but “thinking” – that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!
Is it possible that 1.6 billion people should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants – that is 7 billion – so that they themselves may live? Impossible!
This is all the more remarkable because al-Sisi was addressing a gathering of Islamic scholars and clerics. He went on to tell them a “religious revolution” was needed, and “the entire world” was waiting for it…
It is nevertheless remarkable to hear a leader of al-Sisi’s prominence and devout religious background to call for a worldwide Islamic reformation. Note that he’s not using the “hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists” dodge, or saying that violent jihadists are aberrations bound to wither away on the “wrong side of history.” He’s calling for revolutionary action across the Muslim world, and calling out fundamentalists who believe Islamic law and tradition were chiseled in stone centuries ago…