Wed 5 Jan 2011
Posted by Andrew Mitry under Orthodoxy
The interview is in Arabic, my friend Sam provided me with a loose translation:
P: to the Alexandria families, your pains are my pains. these innocents came out of church to meet their lord in paradise. i send condolences to all Copts in diaspora. i rec'd Muslim clerics who send their condolences to you too. also from Palestinian and Lebanese ….
i: is this attack against only Copts or all Egyptians?
p: pretty much agreed that it is against all Egypt
i: what do you think of the protesters
p: not a Christian value and believe that "other" outsiders may have been implanted in the crowd to "egg on" the crowd and in turn get the crowd control police to respond with violence (not sure if he is saying that Muslims were implanted in the crowd or foreigners, the interviewer asked him to elaborate but it was still not clear)
i: what do you think about those who use violent protests and their state of mind (since they're acting on their emotions)
p: emotions can make you do things not well-thought of
i: what can u say to them
p: calculate the response you will get. also lets not lose our high moral ground because of these actions (i.e. violent protests)
i: I think there is a Christian belief that you find joy in all things
p: God is everywhere, and He is in control,
i: how do we ensure we don't let this sectarian divide worsen
p: there is no problem with religion and the presence of more than one in the country, its the response we have from those who abuse it (and he alluded to the governments response – but v subtle)
i: so are you saying the rioters should stay well-behaved and not go out of their rights…so we don't get a clash
p: I don't see that we are getting or are having any clashes..on the contrary, we have Muslims and Copts protesting, so its actually acting as a unifier.
i: how do we as a unified country stop this common enemy that threatens our unity and restore calm?
p: the state has a duty to address the concerns of the Copts. when there is history of unresolved concerns/issues and a problem like this happens it makes things worse and they can get out of hand, but if the concerns are being addressed, then its more tolerable. basically, the government needs to get the "Coptic folder" dealt with – interjected by the interviewer –
i: I like to call is the "Egyptian folder"
p: call it what you like but it deals with the concerns of not all Egyptians, just the Copts (smiles in a smirk-like uncomfortable manner)
i: but it affects all Egyptians
p: ok and smiles again in disagreement
i: do u think we need to get to a point where the laws don't differentiate between Christian or Muslim or race etc.?
p: we all believe in the importance of law and order. but what is more important is the just laws. a condition for just laws is justice across all people regardless of their belief. other countries have laws that can change with time to reflect these freedoms that are more just – even change/amend their constitution.
i: so this change in the laws are to be approached thru combined meetings with people within the country (alluding to no outside forces/influences) is that how you think we can achieve these amendments?
p: we should join forces, but there are things that go beyond the citizens and into the ruling powers of the state. the government officials are to be careful when they do these amendments to be fair and just for all citizens.
i: the first (something) article in the constitution states that the basis of the country is citizenship
p: I think the term citizenship is a beautiful word, but what does it mean?
i: you tell us what does it mean to you?
p: the meaning of citizenship is when all citizens in Egypt enjoy all the benefits of being a citizen – not just some. however, some cannot comprehend citizenship and don't realize that equal citizenship is essential. I am speaking to you frankly
i: I am speaking to you frankly as well. I am here today to speak openly about your concerns and it concerns all Egyptians not just some.
so Egypt has chosen citizenship as a canonical principle in its constitution…don't you think that the sons of this country need to sit together in peace and discuss this even if they are running high in emotions? will this equality bring peace to the country
p: people living in this country are citizens, people in congress are citizens, people in the state are also citizens…so would a meeting of the people living in this country solve anything? we really need the decision makers to take action. we need to have our concerns addressed and also the concerns that go beyond the Coptic concerns like unemployment and inflation. these people have a duty to do so.
i: do you think that the lack of attention to the Coptic concerns is more general lack of addressing all the problems of the country or specifically just the Coptic…
p: whether its general or specific, it still is a problem that needs to be solved. the lack of attention to problems do not mean that they are not there.
i: regarding the state of national unity, in light of these last incidents will make it diverge or will it bring us all together
p: national unity is between Muslims and Copts, but also there needs to be unity in the political parties as well…we cant do it on the grassroots level only. we need to address it also on various levels of our society not just a declaration that you all must unite…we need true unity
i: Don't you think this incident has proven that there is a strong basic unity between Muslims and Copts of connection of emotions..etc. shouldn't we build on this principle?
p: yes we would love to…we don't want this to be a temporary unity
i: so how do we do that?
p: it needs the help of the media in this matter. we see oftentimes very divergent news in two newspapers in the same day…
i: how do you think media in this country has addressed sectarian issues
p: I see several media outlets rush to publish but are not accurate in their coverage…case in point i see a lot of news about me personally that have never happened…media ought to convey information and also culture…the informative aspect needs to be more accurate in their coverage…
i: when you met the great imam, what happened in that meeting…do you see this as a way to get more unified
p: they sent their condolences, and suggested more meetings between the religious heads and publicize it more
i: how will you celebrate Christmas this year
p: we will celebrate Christmas this year, because this event is extremely important to us Christians. if we didn't celebrate would mean we are not religious, and can escalate problems to a more dangerous level…also not celebrating causes friction with the state..it would send a message that we are driven by emotions and not coherent thinking…this will take time to solve the concerns of Copts, and it will take time
i: what will you tell the Copts in the US when you go for treatment
p: I am going there for medical treatment..not to speak much
i: he asks again the same question
p: I would tel them to have a unified political stance with the mother church
i: what would you say to your flock in Alexandria
p: I say that problems get solved in calm and not in anger…and caution against being used as an excuse for further clash with state security and then have fingers pointed back at them…the state (not just the church) also has a duty to bring calm on the streets..
i: say a word to all Egyptians to conclude
p: this is a country for us all, and when it succeeds it will benefit us all, but when there are ills it hurts us all. lets live in peace and love and not create a reason for foreign intervention.
Overall, the interviewer is trying to get the Pope to talk about (a) the protests/riots and condemn them, and (b) make sure that the diaspora Copts do not make a big fuss at their respective governments; and the Pope is basically, using this opportunity of a long interview to voice the concerns of the Copts and challenge this interviewer by not giving in to his stream of thinking. The Pope is actually saying that the Coptic concerns need to be addressed and stop telling us what we can or cant say.
Feel free to comment with corrections and/or feedback.
via Bishop Suriel
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