The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit met with Egypt's Grand Mufti Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim in Cairo. In their meeting the religious leaders engaged in in-depth dialogue to promote peaceful relations among diverse communities and values for equal citizenship.
Speaking with the WCC general secretary, Abdel-Karim pointed out the common roots and experiences of both Muslims and Christians living together for centuries in Egypt, which he said should be the basis of a constructive engagement for promoting peaceful relations. He went on to say that “alliances between Christians and Muslims are not only possible but already exist on the ground among ordinary people in their everyday lives. The values of honesty, trust and respect are shared among people of both Christian and Muslim faiths.”
Tveit endorsed the importance of a shared vision for peaceful relations, saying, “We reflect together with our Muslim partners on what it means to be a Christian or Muslim in the world today while faced with divisions which are perceived as tensions between us.” This is why cooperation with other faiths is an intrinsic part of our aspirations for Christian unity, he added.
“We share a vision of peaceful relations among communities and hope for a common future, where living together as equal citizens in a democracy is possible. Therefore I see the role of religious leaders as an extremely important one to translate this vision into reality,” said Tveit.
In his response, Abdel-Karim said, “We share your vision for peace on earth. And we strongly affirm the equality of all Egyptian citizens regardless of their religious associations. In our work we have taken concrete actions through different projects to bring diverse groups together and eliminate the eminent tensions between the communities.
Tveit also attended an event organized by the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services, where he addressed a diverse audience representing churches, interfaith networks and Muslim organizations in Cairo. He interacted with the local media, speaking on issues related to religious freedom, inter-religious dialogue and cooperation between Christian and Muslim networks.