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Joy and democracy in Egypt: The Church of England Newspaper, January 24, 2014 February 3, 2014

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Last week’s referendum on a new constitution was marked by joy and dancing in the street, the Bishop of Egypt reports, as the country showed its support for the ousting of former President Mohammad Mursi.

“I can see my beloved country standing on the doorstep of a new day,” Dr Mouneer Anis said on 15 January 2014.

Approximately 39 per cent of Egypt’s 53 million eligible voters turned out to vote on 15-16 January 2014, the country’s election committee reported, with the new constitution receiving 98.1 per cent approval.

Dr Anis reported the Muslim Brotherhood has urged its followers to boycott the referendum. “Going to the polls was risky because of those who were trying to use violence to scare people from voting, but the army and the police exerted a great effort to protect the polls and to give assurance to the people who would like to vote,” the Bishop said.

“The new Constitution affirms equality and the rights of women within Egyptian society,” the Bishop said, and was the product of a popular front government that included “representatives of all sectors of the society” including Christians.

“It was a phenomenon to see crowds of women at each poll, many of whom queued for hours to vote. Some of them were singing and rejoicing, and even dancing, before and after they cast their vote. There was a general spirit of joy among the people of Egypt who voted, in a way that never happened before,” Dr Anis said.

Under the draft constitution, Islam remains the state religion, but freedom of belief is absolute. The state guarantees “equality between men and women” and forbids political parties based on “religion, race, gender or geography”.

Chaos in Egypt: Anglican Ink, August 22, 2013 August 22, 2013

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The political chaos in Egypt can only be resolved by Egyptians, the country’s Council of Churches has declared, warning foreign governments and jihadists to keep out of Egypt.

The Council, led by Pope Tawadros II, “affirmed the right of its citizens to defend themselves against terrorism.” It follows a weekend of anti-Christian violence and arson by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who have destroyed over four dozen Christian churches and schools this week.

The 17 Aug 2013 statement from the pan-Christian council, which represents the Coptic, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Anglican and reformed churches comes in the wake of reports that Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis had been detained by police after Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations were dispersed.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Most Rev. Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Egypt, on 14 Aug 2013 released a statement reporting St. Saviour’s Anglican Church in Suez was “under heavy attack from those who support former President Mursi.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Muslim Brotherhood mob lays seige to Anglican church in Port Suez: Anglican Ink, August 14, 2013 August 14, 2013

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The Bishop of Egypt, Dr. Mouneer Anis writes:

“14 August 2013

Dear Friends,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

As I write these words, our St. Saviour’s Anglican Church in Suez is under heavy attack from those who support former President Mursi.  They are throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the church and have destroyed the car of Rev. Ehab Ayoub, the priest-in-charge of St. Saviour’s Church.  I am also aware that there are attacks on other Orthodox churches in Menyia and Suhag in Upper Egypt(see attached photo), as well as a Catholic church in Suez.  Some police stations are also under attack in different parts of Egypt.  Please pray and ask others to pray for this inflammable situation in Egypt.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Church backing for second Arab Spring in Egypt; The Church of England Newspaper, July 21, 2013 p 6. July 23, 2013

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Christian leaders have welcomed the overthrow of Pres. Mohammed Mursi and his Muslim brotherhood government in Egypt. Following four days of nationwide demonstrations that saw an estimated 20 million Egyptians take to the streets on 3 July 2013 the Egyptian army seized power, arresting Pres. Mursi and suspending the country’s Islamist Constitution.

“At last, Egypt is now free from the oppressive rule of the Muslim Brotherhood,” wrote the Anglican Bishop of Egypt, the Most Rev. Mouneer Anis, on 3 July.

At the start of the demonstrations, Pope Tawadros II – spiritual leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church tweeted his support, writing: “It’s wonderful to see the Egyptian people – through the idea of Tamarod and its youth – taking back their stolen revolution in a peaceful way.”

Shortly after the Army gave Pres. Mursi 48-hours to respond to the protestor’s demands, Pope Tawadros pleaded for a solution that “listens to the voice of the people” and gave his support to the opposition, tweeting “I ​​pay tribute to the big three of Egypt: the people, the army and the youth.”

Dr. Anis reported the army had “responded to the invitation of the people to intervene and force the President to step down at the request of the people of Egypt. Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi invited His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and the Grand Imam of Egypt Dr. Ahmed el-Tayyib, and other political leaders, to discuss the roadmap for the future of Egypt,”

“After this meeting, it was announced that the head of the constitutional court will be an interim leader of the nation. The current controversial constitution is now suspended. The new government will involve capable people from different backgrounds.”

“As soon as Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced this, millions of Egyptians on the streets went around rejoicing, singing, dancing, and making a lot of fireworks. I have never seen Egyptians rejoicing in such a way! They deserve this joy as they insisted to write their own history,” the bishop wrote.

“Since the Muslim Brotherhood ruled the country a year ago, we Egyptians experienced divisions, exclusions, sectarian clashes, fanaticism, a decrease in tourism, and a bad economy. This is an answer to the prayers of so many people from around the world who were praying for our beloved country Egypt,” the bishop said.

On 4 July Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom released a statement saying the overthrow of Mursi regime was the second wave of the Arab Spring.

“What has been seen in the streets of Egypt over the past week would have been considered by many as impossible, especially when set against the backdrop of two years which commenced joyfully, but became increasingly challenging through a state of fragmentation, a failing economy and a weakened state of law and order,” he said.

“With the age old scourge of illiteracy and poverty unaddressed and the development of a cohesive sense of national pride and unity unrealised, the people of Egypt took to the streets to follow their desire for dignity and social justice in the way that proved successful just over two years prior,” Bishop Angelos wrote.

The path ahead was not clear, Dr Anis warned, noting there could be a “violent reaction of the Islamists.”

Pray for Egypt, the Bishop wrote. Pray for “unity and reconciliation after more than one year of divisions.”

Anglican Unscripted Episode 76, July 16, 2013 July 16, 2013

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This Week’s Anglican Unscripted talks about itself? Well, it is the second anniversary of AU and George and Kevin are still bewildered by the shows success. Your Hosts also talk about the Summer of Egypt and the plight of Christian Brothers and Sisters in the Middle East. There has also been a shakeup at Lambeth Palace (per Kevin and George’s request? ) and this week’s AU talks about PR and bad PR.

Allan Haley discusses the Legal wranglings of the Opera and Peter talks about the problem with Sex, Decisions, and Timing in the Church of England.

Kevin and George close out the program talking about the Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman court decision. And, your hosts are still fundraising for a trip to GAFCON! Tweet: #AU76 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

00:00 AU 2nd Anniversary
10:49 Egypt’s Sizzling Summer
16:37 Lambeth Press Relations
21:08 A Night at the Opera
29:00 Same Sex Sex
41:26 Gafcon in the News
48:29 Trayvon
52:15 George Health Update / Gafcon News

Egypt on the brink, Anglican bishop warns: The Church of England, July 7, 2013 p 5. July 10, 2013

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Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Egypt on 30 June 2013 calling for the ouster of Mohammed Mursi on the first anniversary of the inauguration of the Muslim Brotherhood Leader as President of Egypt.

The collapse of the economy and dissatisfaction with the hardline policies of the government left Egypt on the verge of civil war, warned the Most Rev. Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Egypt and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.

On 27 June Dr. Anis stated the “situation in Egypt is very serious. I do not know where this situation will take us. I feel that Egypt is at the verge of violent demonstrations, another revolution, or civil war. We do not know what is going to happen, but we know that we are at the edge of something drastic.”

The state news agency reported violent protests across the country. In Cairo a mob set ablaze the party headquarters of Muslim Brotherhood, while a dozen deaths – including an American college student knifed while filming protests in Alexandria – were reported.

More than 22 million signatures have been gathered on petitions calling for Pres. Mursi to resign. However the president and the Brotherhood have held fast, while the army has remained in its barracks, deploying troops to protect only key government buildings and the Suez Canal.

Dr Anis reported that after he took power, many Egyptians hoped the country “would move forward for the better. However things became worse and are now very difficult.”

“Egyptians became divided between Islamists and non-Islamists. A constitution that was written and approved in haste was one of the main reasons for these divisions. Other reasons were the exclusion of moderates and non-Islamists from participation in the political life, and the appointment of Islamists as ministers in the Cabinet and other prominent posts. These divisions led to instability, a lack of security, and many demonstrations which in turn badly affected the economy and tourism. People started to complain from the rise of food prices, the frequent power cuts, the sectarian clashes, and lately the lack of fuel,” the bishop said.

A nationally televised speech by Pres. Mursi last week did not dampen the protests, Dr. Anis stated. He could only guess what turn events would take, but he asked Anglicans everywhere to  pray “for Egypt and for the people of Egypt” in this dark hour.

First printed in the Church of England Newspaper.

Archbishop Welby to tour Holy Land: The Church of England Newspaper, June 30, 2013 p 6. June 28, 2013

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The Lambeth Palace press office reports the Archbishop of Canterbury will make his first visit Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories this week.

Archbishop Justin Welby will meet with Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders, tour biblical sites and meet with government and civil society figures.

The press statement said the Archbishop was “making this trip early in his ministry because of the significance of the region, the importance of the relationships that his office has there, and because he is keenly aware of the particular pressures on the region at the moment – not least the devastating conflict in Syria, and its impact more widely.”

Accompanied by the Most Rev. Mouneer Anis, the Bishop of Egypt and primate of the province and the Bishop in Jerusalem the Rt Rev Suheil Dawani, Archbishop Welby is scheduled to meet the Coptic Patriarch, Pope Tawadros II and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb.

In Jerusalem, the Archbishop will meet the Patriarchs and Head of Churches in Jerusalem and representatives of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

He had been scheduled to meet Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, but the Ashkenazi chief rabbi has suspended himself from ministry and will refrain from carrying out any official roles during a police inquiry into charges of fraud and bribery allegations. Police raided his home and office last week following an undercover investigation into his financial dealings. The Chief Rabbi denies  the allegations.

Archbishop Welby will visit the Church of the Resurrection, the Western Wall, and Yad Vashem as well as the church hospital in Ramallah.

The Israeli press has welcomed the new Archbishop’s visit. An editorial in Arutz Sheva noted: “Archbishop Welby’s visit is highly symbolic. It is a sign that he is willing to embrace Christianity’s (and his own) Jewish roots, which is particularly important at a time when many in the Church – especially on the Left – are distancing themselves from the biblical concept of the Jews as the people destined to reside in the land of Israel.”

Egypt on the edge Bishop Anis warns: The Church of England Newspaper, April 24, 2013 April 25, 2013

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The Anglican Bishop of Egypt has warned that the sectarian battle outside St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo between Copts and Islamists could take the country into civil war. “Such attacks could lead the country into the abyss of sectarian sedition and deteriorate the social, economic and political conditions of the country. These actions could worsen the image of Egypt in front of the international community, “said Dr. Mouneer Anis, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East and Bishop of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Two men were killed and 89 injured on 7 April 2013 outside the cathedral as mourners left the church following the funeral of four Christians killed in the northern town of Khusus over the weekend.

Human Right’s Watch’s Middle East and North Africa deputy, Nadim Houry, called on President Mohamed Mursi to “break the cycle of impunity” that allowed Muslim hardliner to attack Christians.

“Egyptian law discriminates against Christians by prohibiting the renovation or construction of churches without a presidential decree, a requirement which is not applied to other religions and their places of worship,” she said. The NGO also accused Pres. Mursi of not taking serious steps towards investigating and halting anti-Christian violence.

Sectarian clashes outside Cairo Cathedral: Anglican Ink, April 9, 2013 April 9, 2013

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St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral, Cairo

Egypt remains on edge this week after two men were killed and 89 injured in clashes between Coptic Christians and Islamists outside St. Mark’s Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo.

The Anglican Bishop of Egypt, Dr. Mouneer Anis warned: “Such attacks could lead the country into the abyss of sectarian sedition and deteriorate the social, economic and political conditions of the country. These actions could worsen the image of Egypt in front of the international community.”

A spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Health said 66 people had been treated and released from hospital while 23 remained in care after fighting broke out on 7 April 2013  outside the cathedral as mourners left the church following a funeral for four Christians who were killed in sectarian violence in the northern town of Khusus over the weekend.

Read it all Anglican Ink.

Crisis talks to save Egypt: The Church of England Newspaper, February 13, 2013 February 14, 2013

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The rector of the Al-Azhar in Cairo has convened an all-party meeting of government, opposition, and religious leaders to halt the slide towards anarchy underway in Egypt.

On 31 Jan 2013, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of the al-Azhar University and the country’s leading Islamic scholar, sat down with senior government leaders, the opposition and Muslim and Christian leaders to begin a national conversation “in which all elements of Egyptian society participate, without any exclusion.”

Dialogue “is the only tool to resolve any problems or differences,” Sheikh al-Tayyeb told the gathering, which included the Anglican Bishop of Egypt, Dr. Mouneer Anis.

“Political work has nothing to do with violence or sabotage and the welfare of everyone and the fate of our nation depends on respect for the rule of law,” the sheikh said, according to Egyptian press accounts.

The intervention by the al-Azhar follows street fighting and protests in the wake of the second anniversary of the fall of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Analysts fear the political crisis in Egypt may lead to national collapse.

The International Crisis Group stated that what was “overshadowing” the dispute was a “a persistent, perilous standoff between on one side the president and his Islamist backers for whom elections appear to mean everything, and, on the other, opposition forces for whom they seem to mean nothing; between those in power who deny adversaries respect and those not in power who deny Islamists legitimacy. The constitution-writing process was a sad microcosm: Islamist contempt in forcing through what ought to have been a carefully constructed, consensual document; opposition recklessness in seeking to exploit the moment to topple the Brotherhood; one celebrating a narrow conception of majority rule, the other holding to a counter-productive notion of street politics.”

“Even if leaders back away from the brink, this could quickly get out of hand, as their ability to control the rank and file – and, in the case of the opposition, ability to represent the rank and file – dwindles,” the think tank wrote.

At last week’s meeting, Sheikh al-Tayyeb and Egypt’s religious leaders presented Mahmoud Ezzat, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Saad el-Katatni, the head of its political party with a document that called for the renunciation of violence and a pledge to engage in dialogue with the opposition.

Across the table from the Muslim Brotherhood leaders were leaders of Egypt’s National Salvation Front – including Mohamed ElBardie, the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency and leader of Egypt’s Constitution Party, and former presidential candidates Amr Moussa and leftist Hamdeen Sabahi. Representatives of Egypt’s hardline Islamist parties, including the head of the salafist Nour Party also participated in the talks.

The ten point agreement signed by the political and religious leaders agreed to renounce violence “in all its forms and manifestations” and respect the dignity of all Egyptians irrespective of religion or political views.

Dr. Anis reported after the meeting: “Today the Grand Imam invited all opposition parties and ruling party and churches. We produced a document against violence and formed a committee to prepare for a dialogue. We pray so that the Lord may put an end for this violence and bring peace to Egypt.”

Martial law in Egypt: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2013 p 7. February 5, 2013

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President Muhammad Mursi of Egypt declared a “state of emergency” for Port Said, Ismailia and Suez this week, placing the cities and their surrounding provinces under martial law.

The imposition of a curfew and suspension of civil laws on 27 Jan 2013 comes in the wake of violent riots in Port Said and four days of demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahir Square, with protesters marking the second anniversary of the overthrow of the Mubarak regime with calls for the repeal of the country’s new Sharia-law based constitution.

“Egypt is passing through a difficult moment because of the anniversary of the 25 January 2011 Revolution and the hearing of the verdict of the Port Said Football Massacre,” the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt said. “Please pray for our beloved country Egypt as many have been injured or killed in the last days because of these demonstrations, and because the country is still in a time of transition.

Clashes between police and protesters over the weekend left at least 50 dead and hundreds injured Western news agencies have reported.  The political tensions in the capital were inflamed on Saturday after a court in Port Said sentenced to death 21 men for their part in a football riot.

On 1 Feb 2012 a riot erupted in the stands of Port Said Stadium at the close of an Egyptian premier league match between the Al-Masry and Al-Ahly soccer clubs. More than 1000 people were injured and 79 killed after Al-Masry fans stormed the pitch after their 3-1 victory over Al-Ahly. The Al-Masry fans attacked the opposing side’s players and fans.

The 26 Jan 2013 death sentences sparked riots in Port Said and escalated to street battles between the security services and demonstrators.  In a nationally televised address on Sunday President Mursi said the Port Said rioters were counter revolutionaries. He had imposed martial law to prevent further violence.

“There is no room for hesitation, so that everybody knows the institution of the state is capable of protecting the citizens,” he said. “If I see that the homeland and its children are in danger, I will be forced to do more than that. For the sake of Egypt, I will.”

Hopes for a democratic transformation of Egypt following the fall of the Mubarak regime have been dashed, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports with the  same “brutal tactics being employed against pro-democracy protestors by the previous military” being used by the current regime to “enforce the status quo.”

The Christian community has also fared badly from the “Arab Spring”.  Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom said: “The uprising in Tahrir Square on 25 Jan 2011 inspired the world as it saw Egyptians standing side-by-side in an effort to reclaim their national identity. There was hope for a new Egypt, one that could offer its people the freedom and responsibility of equal citizenship while no longer focusing on their religious or political stance.”

“It is unfortunate however, that two years down the line we have not seen sufficient signs of this transformation, and we still witness the marginalisation and alienation of many, Christians and Muslims alike, within Egyptian society, while repeatedly witnessing others committing crimes and not being brought to justice,” the bishop said.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 64: February 3, 2013 February 4, 2013

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In this week’s episode of Anglican Unscripted your host discuss the adventure (misadventures) of Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori as she descended onto the city of Charleston last week. Allan Haley examines the legal details of the preemptive strike launched against TEC and Schori and how this battle was won. There is also much international news with stories on Egypt and Nigeria and no AU is complete without a story from Canterbury with Peter Ould – this time he talks about the coming wave of Same-Sex Marriage in England . Tweet #AU64 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

First round win for Islamists in Egyptian constitutional referendum: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2012 p 6. December 28, 2012

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The Muslim Brotherhood has claimed victory in the first round of voting to introduce a Sharia Law-based constitution for Egypt.  Unofficial returns after Saturday’s vote released by President Mohammed Mursi’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) show 56.6 per cent of ballots cast were in favour of the new constitution, while 43.5 per cent were opposed.

However, the Egyptian Coalition for Monitoring Elections said in a statement after the polls closed on Saturday there were “cases of voter intimidation, delaying the voting process, and early closure of some voting centers with no clear reasons,” while the Egyptian Independent newspaper reported that in some polling places Coptic Christians were not allowed to vote.

In a pastoral letter released on the eve of the vote, the Bishop of Egypt, Dr. Mouneer Anis warned the political battle between Islamists and moderates may push Egypt into civil war.

“I cannot tell you how much I am heavy-hearted because of what is going on in my beloved country Egypt,” Dr. Anis said, as “many Egyptians were expecting that after the 25 January Revolution in 2011 there would be no exclusion for any citizen or groups because of their political or religious stance. Sadly, we are still groaning for this equality.”

The new constitution posed significant problems for Christians, women and moderate Muslims, the bishop said as the constitution would empower religious vigilante groups to impose their views on society. “We have already seen some groups such as ‘The Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice’ who, in the name of Islam, punish others without resorting to the legal authorities,” the bishop wrote, noting the language of the new constitution would give their actions the force of law.

“Another example would be how Article 2 mentions that ‘the principles of the Islamic sharia is the source of all legislation’ while Article 219 defines ‘the principle of the Islamic sharia’ in a vague way which can be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on the different Islamic sects,” the bishop wrote.

This breakdown of public trust in the government over the constitutional reform process had led to street fighting between the Muslim Brotherhood and pro-democracy activists.  “The two demonstrating groups became violent and more than 450 people were injured and 8 people were killed. The demonstrations continue now and the fear is that another wave of violence and bloodshed may happen tomorrow.”

The bishop said that those who opposed the new constitution believed it should be a document that fosters national unity, not the sectarian interests of one political-religious party.  The document was “dividing the society into Islamists and non-Islamists (moderate Muslims and Christians),” the bishop warned.

Ten provinces, including Cairo and Alexandria voted on 15 December and 17 rural provinces are scheduled to vote on 22 December. “It is heart-breaking to see Egyptians against Egyptians,” Dr. Anis said. “We don’t want to see Egypt in a civil war.”

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop warns of civil war as Egypt heads to the polls: Anglican Ink, December 14, 2012. December 15, 2012

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Tahir Square, Cairo

The political battle between Islamists and moderates may push Egypt into civil war, the Bishop of Egypt, Dr. Mouneer Anis has warned.

In a pastoral letter released the day before first vote on a national referendum to ratify a constitution drawn up by the Islamist-dominated parliament, Dr. Anis writes the democratic hopes that lay behind the “Arab Spring”, the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak, have faded away.

“I cannot tell you how much I am heavy-hearted because of what is going on in my beloved country Egypt. Many Egyptians were expecting that after the 25 January Revolution in 2011 there would be no exclusion for any citizen or groups because of their political or religious stance. Sadly, we are still groaning for this equality,” the bishop wrote on 14 Dec 2012.

In his letter, Dr. Anis described the background to the new constitution, noting it had been crafted by Islamists with little meaningful input from Christians, moderate Muslims or secularists. The lack of consultation spelled troubled, he warned.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Pray for Egypt: The Church of England Newspaper, December 2, 2012 p 6 December 7, 2012

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The Bishop of Egypt has issued a call to prayer for his embattled country after President Mohammad Mursi issued a decree widening the powers of the president and blocking his actions from judicial review by the courts.  More than 500 people have been injured in clashes between police and protestors angered by the seizure of absolute power by the Muslim Brotherhood government.

Opposition leaders and representatives from the Egypt’s Christian minority have also walked out of talks on drafting a new constitution after the Muslim Brotherhood dominated committee announced that Sharia law would be the basis of Egyptian law.  The Egyptian state news service reported President Mursi had met with Pope Theodore (Tawadros) II on 21 Nov where the president “reiterated his rejection of any kind of discrimination against any Egyptian and underlined the necessity to reach consensus on the constitution.”

However, on 24 Nov 2012 Bishop Mouneer Anis wrote there was “agitation within Egypt” after the president issued a decree saying “his decisions are ‘final and unchallengeable by any individual or body until a new constitution has been ratified and a new parliament has been elected.’ The Supreme Judicial Council described the declaration as ‘an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings’.”.

The bishop added the larger political situation was unsettled also as “the churches in Egypt alongside some liberal parties, withdrew their representatives in the committee responsible for writing the new constitution. This was an act of protest, because the majority of the committee are Islamists who want to impose their own views in the constitution. As we dream for real democracy, it was my hope, with many other Egyptians, to have a constitution that is inclusive of all Egyptians.”

The bishop urged Christians to pray for Egypt as “almost two years since the start of the revolution, and we are still longing for stability, democracy, and the opportunity to rebuild Egypt.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 58, December 2, 2012 December 2, 2012

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This week Kevin and George talk about the Artificial Ecclesiastical Diocese of South Carolina (AEDOS) and some of the miscommunication between it’s leadership. They also talk about International stories from Canada and Egypt. And what episode won’t be complete without a story about Legal Violence in Zimbabwe? #AU58 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

Egypt’s parliament endorses Sharia law: Anglican Ink, November 29, 2012 November 29, 2012

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President Mohammad Mursi of Egypt

Egypt’s Constituent Assembly has endorsed Article 2 of the country’s proposed constitution making Sharia law the basis for the country’s civil legal code.

On 29 Nov 2012 members of the Egyptian parliament began voting on each of the 234 article proposed by a constitutional committee chartered by President Mohammad Mursi. However, representatives of Egypt’s Christian communities and the opposition walked out of the talks last week after the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated drafting committee refused to compromise over Sharia law.

The Egyptian Independent reported there was uncertainty until the start of voting as to whether a quorum would be reached.  The 100-member chamber requires 67 members to be present to vote on the constitution and 22-members had announced they would boycott the proceedings.  However, the ruling party was able to call upon reserve members of Parliament, elected as alternates at the last election, to fill seats deemed to have been vacated.  At the start of the vote on Thursday afternoon 85 members answered the roll call.

Article 2, Sharia Law, which states that “the principles of the Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation,” remains unchanged from the 1971 constitution. However a new clause, Article 221 states that these principles are to be deduced from its fundamental rules and its Sunni sources.  The constitution also gives religious scholars at the Al-Azhar University the right to consult on the interpretation of Sharia law and its relation to the civil code.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Global South backing for South Carolina: The Church of England Newspaper, November 4, 2012 p 6. November 8, 2012

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The leaders of the Global South coalition of Anglican archbishops have written to the Bishop of South Carolina offering their prayers and support in his battle with the head of the American Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

On 25 Oct 2012, Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean, and the Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt wrote to Bishop Mark Lawrence from Singapore, where they were attending the installation of the Rt. Rev. Rennis Ponniah as 9th bishop of the diocese.

“We were saddened, but not surprised, by the news of your inhibition and possible deposition by the TEC. We all want to assure you and the Diocese of South Carolina of our continuing prayers and support. We thank God for your stand for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! We are proud that you are willing to suffer for the faith once delivered to the saints,” the archbishops wrote.

“Please be assured that we are with you, and that our Lord is also proud of you and our brothers and sisters in the Diocese of South Carolina,” they said, in their letter of support from the primates of Nigeria, South East Asia, Myanmar, Congo, the Southern Cone, Kenya and the Sudan.

On 15 Oct Bishop Lawrence was informed by Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori that the Disciplinary Board for Bishops had recommended he be suspended from the ministry for having abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church.  The announcement from New York came amidst negotiations between Bishop Lawrence and representatives of the national church over the diocese’s place within the church in light of the vote by General Convention to implement rites for gay marriages.

Fearful the national church would seek to compel it to conform to its innovation in doctrine and discipline, in recent years South Carolina had amended its constitution and canons – adopting a provision that disaffiliates the diocese from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church should its bishop be subject to theological persecution through an attack via the disciplinary canons.

The effect of the presiding bishop’s announcement was to trigger the disaffiliation canon, such that the Diocese of South Carolina and its 29,000 members withdrew from the church.

On 19 Oct Bishop Lawrence met with the clergy of the diocese to discuss the situation. He told The Church of England Newspaper that he was unable to comment at that time as to what steps would be taken by the diocese.  However, a special convention of the diocese has been called for 17 Nov 2012.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Egypt’s Christians must stick together, new pope tells Anglicans: Anglican Ink, November 7, 2012 November 7, 2012

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Pope Tawadros II and Dr. Mouneer Anis

Christians in Egypt must put their denominational differences to one side and work together towards transforming Egyptian society, the newly elected Patriarch of Alexandria has told Bishop Mouneer Anis, the Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

In a 7 November 2012 letter Dr. Anis told Anglican Ink that he met with the newly elected pope, who will assume the name Pope Tawadros II upon his enthronement on 18 Nov at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo.

The meeting with the new leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church at St Bishoy’s Monastery in Wadi Natroun was a joyful occasion Dr. Anis wrote. Tawadros told the Middle East and North Africa’s Anglican leader “it is important that we have a strong and cordial relationship with each other” and that the Orthodox and Anglicans pray for each other so that they fulfill God’s purposes for their ministry.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican-Muslim call to ban blasphemy: The Church of England Newspaper, September 30, 2012 p 2. October 2, 2012

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Four Anglican bishops from North Africa and Middle East have joined Muslim leaders in Egypt in writing to U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon urging the adoption of an international declaration against religious defamation.

On 16 the Egyptian State Information service reported the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed el-Tayyeb had written to the U.N. leader urging the adoption of an anti-blasphemy resolution that would criminalize insults to Islam and to its prophet, Muhammad.  The government also reported that the Bishop of Egypt, Mouneer Anis had issued a similar call to the U.N. to ban blasphemy.

On 15 Sept 2012 Bishops Anis of Egypt, Michael Lewis of Cyprus and the Gulf,  Bill Musk of North Africa and Grant LeMarquand of the Horn of Africa urged the U.N. to prohibit actions and language that denigrated all religious faiths.

In “view of the current inflamed situation in several countries in response to the production of a film in the USA which evidently intends to offend our Muslim brothers and sisters by insulting the Prophet Mohammed, and in view of the fact that in recent years similar offensive incidents have occurred in some European countries which evoked massive and violent responses worldwide, we hereby suggest that an international declaration be negotiated that outlaws the intentional and deliberate insulting or defamation of persons (such as prophets), symbols, texts and constructs of belief deemed holy by people of faith.”

They said such a declaration would not be a violation of the right of free speech, but would encourage people to be “responsible and self-restraining in expressing or promoting offensive or malicious opinions with regard to the religions of the world.”

The bishops said their aim in offering this suggestion was to build peaceful relations amongst the world’s religions and prevent “violence that may easily lead to wars between nations and conflicts between people from different cultural or philosophical backgrounds or followers of different faiths,” the bishops said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Egyptian bishop backs blasphemy ban: The Church of England Newspaper, September 23, 2012 p 5. September 24, 2012

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Bishop Mouneer Anis

The Government of Egypt reports the Anglican Bishop of Egypt, Dr. Mouneer Anis, has written to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon endorsing the call made by Islamic member states to ban blasphemy. The government statement comes as part of the Muslim Brotherhood government’s media response to the attack on the U.S. embassy in Cairo by Muslim militants last week ostensibly in response to a YouTube video that defamed Mohammad.

In a statement released on 16 Sept 2012, the Egyptian State Information Service said Dr. Anis had written to the U.N. chief the previous day urging him to “issue a declaration that prohibits blasphemy.”

The Egyptian government said that in his letter, Dr. Anis said a ban on blasphemy would “not run counter to freedom of speech, but it prevents using this right to insult religious sanctities. ‘We believe that mutual respect is the only way for peaceful coexistence’.”

The Church of England Newspaper has not been able to confirm with Dr. Anis or the Diocese of Egypt the veracity of the state information service’s claim, or whether Dr. Anis’ letter was an endorsement of the resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on 19 Dec 2011 condemning the stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of people based on their religion, and urging countries to take effective steps “to address and combat such incidents.”

Similar resolutions had been brought to the U.N. each year since 1999 by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – a 56 member block of Muslim nation-states, but had been opposed by Western states.

However, in 2011 the language of the resolution was changed with language condemning the “defamation” of religion dropped and a clause inserted that reaffirmed “the positive role that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance.”

The amended resolution received the backing of the U.S. and U.K. and the E.U., though Poland’s ambassador questioned whether this resolution favored one religion over others. After the vote, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “the best way to treat offensive speech is by people either ignoring it or combating it with good arguments and good speech that overwhelms it.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted: September 22, 2012 September 23, 2012

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Kevin and George cover a breadth of topics this week: The crisis in the middle east, Jesus’ wife and what was her name, and some very important domestic conversations.

Anglican bishops call for U.N. ban on blasphemy: Anglican Ink, September 17, 2012 September 18, 2012

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Bishop Mouneer Anis

Four North African and Middle Eastern Anglican bishops have written to U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon urging the adoption of an international declaration against religious defamation.

Bishops Mouneer Anis of Egypt, Michael Lewis of Cyprus and the Gulf and assistant Bishops Bill Musk of North Africa and Grant LeMarquand of the Horn of Africa wrote to the U.N. leader on 15 Sept 2012 following the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and consulate in Benghazi on 11 Sept.  In the days that followed mobs demonstrated outside American diplomatic posts across the Middle East and attacked U.S., German and British embassies in Tunis and Khartoum, ostensibly in response to a Youtube video that attacked Mohammad.

The bishops wrote that in “view of the current inflamed situation in several countries in response to the production of a film in the USA which evidently intends to offend our Muslim brothers and sisters by insulting the Prophet Mohammed, and in view of the fact that in recent years similar offensive incidents have occurred in some European countries which evoked massive and violent responses worldwide, we hereby suggest that an international declaration be negotiated that outlaws the intentional and deliberate insulting or defamation of persons (such as prophets), symbols, texts and constructs of belief deemed holy by people of faith.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Church leaders urge Egypt’s new president to support religious tolerance: The Church of England Newspaper, September 2, 2012 p 6. September 6, 2012

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The sacking of the country’s top generals puts an end to 52 years of military rule and restores the rule of law to Egypt, President Mohammed Morsi told a gathering of Christian leaders this week, the Bishop of Egypt Dr. Mouneer Anis writes.

On 22 August, Dr. Anis along with 12 other bishops and ministers representing Egypt’s  Coptic Orthodox Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant Churches met for two hours at the presidential palace with the new president.

“I, and all my colleagues, appreciated the fact that the President called us twice in less than two months to talk and listen to us. This never happened in the last 30 years,” Dr. Anis said.

“The President shared with us the reasons behind his recent decisions to dismiss the military chiefs and the cancelling of the constitutional declarations they made. By these decisions the President put an end to the military ruling of the country which started since 1952. He also shared his hopes that the new Constitution would represent the hopes and views of all Egyptian regardless of their religion, ethnic background and political views. This will guarantee the support of the vast majority of people to the new constitution,” the bishop reported.

Asked to share with him the concerns of Egypt’s Christian minority, the church leaders urged the president to clamp down on sectarian violence.  “Ignorance and wrong teaching are behind such congestion,” they told the president and urged him to support the “sound and moderate religious teaching of Islam as taught by Al Azhar.”

A member of the Muslim Brotherhood before his run for office, President Morsi has supported the introduction of Shari’a law in Egypt. At a 13 May rally broadcast by Misr-25 TV, he told supporters the Koran would be the true constitution of Egypt.

“Above all – Allah is our goal… The shari’a, then the shari’a, and finally, the shari’a. This nation will enjoy blessing and revival only through the Islamic shari’a. I take an oath before Allah and before you all that regardless of the actual text [of the constitution]… Allah willing, the text will truly reflect [the shari'a], as will be agreed upon by the Egyptian people, by the Islamic scholars, and by legal and constitutional experts,” he proclaimed.

The Christian leaders urged the president to improve the quality of Egypt’s schools to “care for the education of the new generations so that they become more tolerant and good citizens. We suggested that common values should be taught in schools,” Dr Anis said.

They also asked the president to ensure non-partisan policy and that the security services apply the “rule of law on everyone, especially when sectarian clashes” as well as take steps to improve public order across the country.

“We told the President that we are aware that he received a heavy responsibility at a very difficult time in Egypt’s history and we all need to be patient and hard-working in order to see the desired fruits,” the bishop reported, adding the president “assured us that he is working to achieve the dream of Egypt: to be a democratic and modern country where the rights of citizenship and the constitution are held up high.”

“In the end, we came out of the meeting very encouraged and determined to do our best in order to see the Egypt that we dream of,” said Dr. Anis.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Christians afraid in Egypt: The Church of England Newspaper, July 1, 2012 p 6. July 5, 2012

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Dr. Mouneer Anis

The Anglican Church in Egypt accepts the election of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Dr. Mohammed Mursi as president, but prays that he will honour his pledge to abide by the country’s secular constitution.

In a statement given to The Church of England Newspaper on 24 June 2012, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East and Bishop of Egypt, Dr. Mouneer Anis said Christians are “praying for Mursi, and we hope that he will fulfill his promises.”

On 24 June the head of the Higher Presidential Election Commission, Farouq Sultan, said Dr. Mursi had won 13,230,131 votes (51.73 per cent) former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq’s 12,347,380.

In a nationally televised speech, the new president said: “Today I am a president for all Egyptians, wherever they may be.”

“I call on you, great people of Egypt,” he said, “to strengthen our national unity.”

The uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak will carry on “until all the objectives of the revolution are achieved and together we will complete this march. The people have been patient long enough,” Dr. Mursi said.

Dr. Anis noted that Dr. Mursi had “promised to be a president for all Egyptians, to appoint a prime minister who is not from the Muslim Brotherhood, and moreover he promised to appoint a Christian vice-president.”

“He made these promises to calm the widespread anxiety of the moderate Muslims and the Christians, who were hoping for a secular government. It is worth mentioning that over the last eight months, the Muslim Brotherhood has lost a lot of support because when they became the biggest party in the Egyptian parliament, they tried to dominate the committee which was responsible for writing the constitution. In addition, the Muslim Brotherhood promised that they would not nominate a presidential candidate; however they changed their mind and nominated Mursi. They also did not give any attention over the last year to the hardships of the Christians in Egypt. All of these reasons were behind the narrow margin in today’s election results,” the bishop said.

The “fear now” is the new president will not honour his promises, the bishop said.  “If Egypt became an Islamic state, this will mean that Christians will be marginalized” and “some writers express their fears that if the Muslim Brotherhood gained control of Egypt, they will stay in power for more than 100 years.”

“The High Military Council, being aware of this anxiety, took several decisions last week to limit the authority of the incoming president, and to ensure that Egypt stays as a secular state,” the bishop said.

“I am aware that some Western governments are critical of these decisions; however we see them as important measures to guarantee a secular state,” Dr. Anis said, noting the church “will continue to speak out if there is any deviation in our democratic journey. We trust in God and His promises in the middle of this uncertainty and anxiety. He promised that the gates of Hades will never overcome His church. Please pray for our beloved country Egypt.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 44 (One Year Anniversary) : Anglican TV, June 29, 2012 June 29, 2012

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In this week’s Anglican Unscripted Kevin and George discuss the Arab Apocalypse and the effects on the Anglican Church in Egypt. Also, the two June Birthday boys discuss General Convention and the illogical musings of Rowan Williams. Alan Haley delves into the mess we call the Supreme Court and special guest Bishop Dan Martins gives us a sneak peak on GC2012. #AU44

Anglican encomiums for Pope Shenouda III: The Church of England Newspaper, March 23, 2012 p 7 March 28, 2012

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Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria

The Archbishop of Canterbury has offered his condolences to the Coptic Orthodox Church following the death of Pope Shenouda III on 17 March 2012.

“His Holiness has been an exemplary and outstanding Christian leader both within Egypt and far beyond its boundaries,” Dr. Rowan Williams stated on 19 March.  “His long ministry in the See of St Mark has seen the most extraordinary revival in the Coptic Orthodox Church, not least in its monastic life; and his own personal witness as a man of prayer, a peacemaker, a teacher of the faith and a disciple willing to suffer for the sake of his Lord has been an inspiration.”

Born Nazeer Gayed on 3 August 1923 in Egypt, the future pope was educated at Cairo University and Coptic Orthodox Theological Seminary. On 18 July 1954 he was tonsured and become a monk, known as Fr. Antonious El-Syriani.

He lived in a cave as hermit on the edge of the Egyptian dessert for six years, but on 30 Sept 1962 he was named president of the church’s seminary and consecrated as bishop, taking the name, Shenouda.

On 4 November 1971 following the deliberations of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church and the General Lay Council of the Church, the names of three nominees were written on three slips of paper.  A blindfolded child then chose one of the three slips of paper at random and by this action, symbolizing the power of the Holy Spirit, Shenounda was named  the 117th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.

The Presiding Bishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt told The Church of England Newspaper Pope Shenouda was “well known for defending the rights of Christians, and because of this he was put under house arrest by President Anwar Sadat.  He was released after the death of Sadat.  In spite of this he continued to love Egypt and often said, ‘Egypt is not the country in which we live but the country lives in our hearts’.”

Dr. Anis noted that in the midst of the country’s political turmoil it “is not easy for Egyptian Christians to lose Pope Shenouda, the father of the church in Egypt, at this time of uncertainty about the future.  I was not surprised to see hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of Cairo yesterday, immediately after the announcement of the passing away of the beloved Pope, who was such an important symbol for the nation.”

Dr. Williams and Dr. Anis noted the Coptic pope had been a staunch friend of the Anglican Church.  “Our relationship to the Coptic Orthodox Church is the strongest among the different denominations in Egypt,” Dr. Anis said, adding that “several times he mentioned to me how much he appreciated the fact that he started his career as a teacher of English in our Anglican School in Cairo.”

Dr. Williams said he had first met Pope Shenouda in the late seventies and had “always found in him a depth of Christian love, welcome and wisdom. He has shepherded his flock through very difficult times, always accessible to his people and keenly aware of the pressures they have faced and still face today. He has been a good friend to the Anglican community in Egypt and to the Communion at large.”

In his forty years as leader of the Egyptian church, Shenouda has seen its ecclesiastical expansion to the U.S., Brazil, Australia, and the United Kingdom as well as a revival of the monastic tradition in Egypt. As of 2009 over 20 communities each with over 100 monks are active in Egypt. Since 1971 he has ordained more than eighty Metropolitans and Bishops and over 600 priests.

Dr. Anis stated that “every Wednesday for the last 41 years, he met with his people (between 5000 and 6000 each week) to answer their questions and teach from the Bible.”

“In our churches we have prayed for the Coptic Orthodox Church and we have thanked God for Pope Shenouda, his life and his ministry in the assurance that he now celebrates eternal life with his Lord Christ,” Dr. Anis said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anarchy fears for Egypt: The Church of England Newspaper, February 17, 2012 p 8. February 23, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Politics.
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Bishop Mouneer Anis

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The promises of the Arab Spring have failed to flower, the Bishop of Egypt reports.

In a 6 February 2012 letter to the Jerusalem and Middle East Church Association Dr. Mouneer Anis reports that his country is “is undergoing a very, very difficult time. It looks as if the country is experiencing labor pains which may end up by the birth of a new baby, a new democratic Egypt. But it could also be the pains prior to a stillbirth, or an abortion.”

The latest round of violence follows the deaths of spectators at a football game in Port Said on 1 Feb.  Following a game between the Al-Masry home team and the visiting Al-Ahly club from Cairo, supporters of Al-Masry attacked fans from Cairo.  The Ministry of Health reported that 74 people were killed in the fighting and 400 were injured.

The deaths sparked protests in Cairo and a Feb 3 march on the Ministry of the Interior, which is responsible for the police who have been blamed for allowing the riot to escalate into a massacre.  Protestors battled with the police, who dispersed the crowd with tear gas.  Riots also erupted in Alexandria and Suez, where 3 people died after a mob ransacked the main police station.

Bishop Anis wrote that it was “very difficult to understand why” the Port Said riot took place.  “Many people believe that this massacre was an arranged by the old regime. I can hardly imagine that this is my beloved country, Egypt.”

“This very sad massacre provoked anger all over Egypt which led to widespread demonstrations and violence in several provinces. These violent demonstrations led to more killing and injuries. It is said that more than 2,500 were injured in this last week alone. In addition to this, a government building was set on fire and unknown persons detonated the natural gas pipeline in Sinai for the 12th time in the last year,” the bishop wrote.

The government has formed a commission of inquiry to investigate the riot, but the bishop is not sanguine as to its outcome, noting that an investigation into anti-Christian riots last year in Maspero that led to a massacre have “revealed nothing and brought no one to justice.”

Dr. Anis reported that “some political parties and students from different universities are now calling for civil disobedience for three days starting on the 11th of February 2012. They are calling for the transfer of government from the Military Council to a civil one. We as a church have decided that we will keep our churches open for prayer during these days. We pray that it will pass without violence.”

Egypt was at a crossroads, he said, with the “major challenge” facing the country being the “writing of the new constitution.”

“Who will be involved in this? Is it a group of like minded people or a group of Egyptians representing the entire spectrum of thoughts? Will it respect the United Nations declaration of Human Rights, or not?” he asked.

“Please join us in prayer for Egypt, for the stability of the country, for those who will write the new constitution, for safety and protection for all, and for the unity of the church,” Dr. Anis said.

Egyptian unrest causing Christian exodus, bishop warns: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2011 p 6. November 25, 2011

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Bishop Mouneer Anis

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Four days of protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square have left an estimated 33 dead and 1750 injured as demonstrators call for an end to military rule in Egypt.  Crowds estimated at over 100,000 have gathered in the central Cairo square, scene of the protests that brought down the government of Hosni Mubarak earlier this year.

Television footage of the demonstrations show protestors hurling fire bombs and paving stones at police, who have responded with tear gas and batons to clear the square.  On 21 Nov 2011, Egypt’s civilian cabinet offered its resignation to the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in protest to the army crackdown.

The bloodshed comes only a week before Egypt’s parliamentary elections are set to begin. Reuters has reported that while the army stated the riots would not postpone the elections, the unrest could deter voters from going to the polls in Cairo.

The Cairo newspaper al-Masry al-Youm reported on Monday that the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had met with the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, and have agreed to speed up the process towards civilian rule.  The Muslim Brotherhood urged protesters to show restraint, and said it would not participate in the demonstrations. However, other Islamist groups have stated that they will join democracy activists and Copts in the protests against military rule.

The Bishop of Egypt, Dr. Mouneer Anis has asked for prayer for his country.  In a 16 Nov 2011 letter sent to the Jerusalem and Middle East Church Association in Britain – before the latest riots – Dr. Anis wrote the unrest had many causes.

“Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans, Syrians, Jordanians, Iraqis, Moroccans, Yemini, and

Bahrainis are rising up, calling for freedom, transparency and democracy. Many of these people of the Middle East have suffered under oppressive and corrupt governments. They feel that the time has come to determine their own destiny.”

“On one hand, this is very hopeful and encouraging,” the bishop wrote. But “on the other hand, this brings concern, apprehension and even fear. There are those who rode the waves of these uprisings and have called for Islamic (not secular, nondemocratic) governments.”

“Many moderate Muslims and Christians are concerned because they see the examples of Islamic states like Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.”

He added that almost 60 per cent of the population of the Middle East is less than 30 years of age. “The problem of unemployment, the rise in the cost of food, and the lack of good education hits them hard. This is a major reason for these uprisings.”

Dr. Anis added that in the “last ten months we also experienced a rise in fanaticism. This was manifested in demolishing and burning of churches, as well as protesting for the appointment of a Christian local governor. Egyptian Christians, overcoming the barrier of fear in which they lived for so many years, are now bold to demonstrate against injustice. As a result of this the clashes at Maspero happened and resulted in the death of 27 and over 318 injured.”

The unrest had also led to many Christians leaving Egypt, Palestine and Iraq for the West.  “I cannot imagine the Middle East, where Jesus lived and walked, being without Christians. It would never be the same. The future can be dim, but it can also carry hope for the church.”

“We trust that God is in charge and we are in His hands. His promise is that ‘the gates of hell will never overcome’ His Church,” Dr. Anis said.

Bishops’ call to prayer for Egypt: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 21 2011 p 6. October 26, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for an investigation into the killing of 24 Christians by the Egyptian security services during a pro-democracy march in Cairo last week.

On 18 October Dr Rowan Williams asked the Foreign Office to press the Egyptian government to ensure the review would be impartial and there would be a “proper distance of that inquiry from the military establishment.”

Government indifference was exacerbating the crisis, he said, telling the peers there had been a “prolonged failure by the security forces to guarantee the safety of Christian personnel and property” in Egypt.

Foreign Office minister Lord Howell responded that Dr Williams was correct as there was “recent evidence of a rising tide of extremism in the clashes that have occurred,” adding that “I can only reassure you that the dialogue continues, the pressure is on.”

In a letter sent to The Church of England Newspaper and other supporters on 11 October, the Bishop of Egypt, Dr Mouneer Anis said Christians held a three-day fast last week in solidarity with those killed on 9 October 2011.

“It is now clear,” Dr Anis wrote, “that the demonstrations started by the Christians were peaceful.

“Some Muslims joined in the demonstrations in support of the rights of the Christians. But, unidentified persons were able to infiltrate the demonstrations aiming to make these demonstrations violent. They gave a false impression that Christians were violent and they were the ones who attacked the army soldiers. In response, the army fired against the demonstrators and used their tanks to run over some of them. The price was the death of 24 Christians and the injury of over 318 Christians and Muslims.”

The Bishop said the demonstrations began as a “reaction to the burning of the newly built church of Mari Nab” near Aswan by “Muslim fundamentalists” who set fire to the church “after Friday prayers.” The police declined to stop the arson attacks, he said.

Egypt’s Christian and Muslim leaders held an emergency meeting last week under the presidency of the Grand Imam of the al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed el Tayyib, and adopted a joint statement condemning the violence.

The interfaith council, the Beit el Aila – House of the Family – called for the government to deal with the root causes of “sectarian incidents”, and not seek “superficial and temporary reconciliations.”

They also asked the government fulfil its promise to permit the building of churches and to “investigate thoroughly these incidents and to bring to justice those criminals who were involved directly or indirectly … delay will only lead to a repetition of these incidents.”

Dr Anis added he was heartened by the goodwill of many Muslims towards Egypt’s Christians and thanked those who spoke out against their oppression. He asked Anglicans across their communion to pray for Egypt – for Christians and Muslims – and for peace.

Bishops canvas support for action against the USA: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 4, 2003. October 17, 2011

Posted by geoconger in 74th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2003.
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The American Episcopal Church could find itself reduced to observer status, without voice or vote, when Anglican Primates meet in October to decide their response to the unprecedented decision to ratify the election of a practising gay bishop.

An estimated 22 to 25 Primates of the Anglican Communion, representing the vast majority of the world’s Anglicans, are likely to oppose the American decision in the strongest possible terms. Last Friday, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, recognising the gravity of the situation, called an emergency meeting of the Primates in October. It is the first time that an extraordinary meeting has been called to deal with just one issue, and points to the growing strength of the Primates as a body to deal with discipline in the Anglican Communion.

According to sources close to Primates of the global south, there are already plans to hold a number of meetings in the run-up to the extraordinary Primates’ Meeting to discuss a strategy.

The strategy is likely to be based on proposals in a document entitled, ‘To Mend the Net’, commissioned by the former Primate of the Southern Cone, Maurice Sinclair, and the Archbishop of the West Indies, Drexel Gomez.

Although early reports suggested that a parallel province in north America could result from Dr Rowan Williams’s meeting of the Primates, which would enable conservative Episcopalians to disassociate themselves from the General Convention, this is likely to be rejected by conservative primates.

Instead they are increasingly setting their minds against creating the ghetto of a third province for mainstream Anglicans in America and want to press for discipline.

The first step would be stripping ECUSA of its right to vote and voice at Lambeth Conferences, Primates’ Meetings and the Anglican Consultative Council. Secondly, the Primates’ Meeting could recommend to the Archbishop of Canterbury that he “authorises and supports appropriate means of evangelisation, pastoral care and Episcopal oversight” in ECUSA. Finally, if the American Church persisted in its defiance of the views of the majority it could be expelled from the Anglican Communion and a new jurisdiction would then be recognised as a representative part of the Anglican Communion.

The ‘To Mend the Net’ proposals are currently in the hands of the Anglican doctrinal body set up in 2001 to look at the limits of diversity in the Communion. But this body has not reported and was recently criticised by one of its members, Dr Paul Zahl, for failing in its purpose of responding to crises such as those created by the election of Canon Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire.

The Anglican Church of Kenya has already broken communion with the Diocese of New Hampshire. Condemnations of the General Convention decision came from as far a field as New Zealand, Nigeria, South America and the West Indies.

The Bishop of Egypt, Mouneer Anis, stated: “We cannot comprehend a decision to elect as bishop a man who has forsaken his wife and the vows he made to her in order to live in a sexual relationship with another man outside the bonds of his marriage.”

He added, “We had not expected this to be done to us by brothers and sisters who are in communion with us. We had expected that they would think of us before taking such a grave step. It showed great disrespect to the majority of the members of the Anglican Communion and the church worldwide. In fact, the decision shows disregard for the value of being in communion and part of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It also places in doubt the future of the Lambeth Conference. When its resolutions are no longer respected by members of the conference what purpose does it have?”

The day after the election, the American Anglican Council, the coalition of evangelical and traditionalist organisations in the Episcopal Church announced a meeting to be held in Texas in early October to coordinate strategies among dioceses and parishes. A number of conservative dioceses have scheduled special conventions in September and October to discuss the actions taken at Convention and to debate what steps to take in response.

In addition to the formal meeting of Primates called by Rowan Williams, small groups of Primates will be gathering in a number of meetings around the world in the coming weeks to coordinate strategy and develop a common front in response to the election of Gene Robinson.

The varieties of responses proposed by individual Primates range from suspension of ECUSA from the Communion to the creation of an alternate “orthodox” province for North America. What is certain in all of this is that the status quo of Anglicanism, before Gene Robinson and Minneapolis, cannot be regained.

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