Arab Spring and A Common Word
September 23rd, 2011
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On Wednesday, September 21, 2011, the church hosted a delegation of ten scholars from Al Azhar University in Cairo. Three of them spoke about the meaning and repercussions of the “Arab Spring” in Egypt earlier this year.
The group was in the United States at the invitation of the U.S. State Department, sponsored by the Civilizations Exchange & Cooperation Foundation, President, Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat. The CECF is headquartered in Baltimore.
Their purpose in the U.S. was to gain exposure to religious and cultural pluralism, to explore interfaith initiatives, to examine religious freedom., and to observe the process of democracy, especially as it involves Muslims in America.
They all teach at Al Azhar University in Cairo in various departments. For brief bio’s, click here.
Some of the points made were that they understand mercy to be the primary attribute of Allah, which entails behaving with mercy toward others, including non-Muslims. They see education as key to the continued development of Egypt and the Middle East.
In the second hour a panel of local Christians joined Imam Arafat in a brief discussion of “A Common Word,” a statement by over 130 Muslim scholars and leaders in 2007.
During questions and answers after the presentations, among other topics, the Egyptian scholars said that their view is that current treaty with Israel ought to be honored, provided that Israel honors it.
The congregation of Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church was delighted to host the evening. About 75 people attended.