Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki, President of the Protestant Community in Egypt and Director of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS), concluded yesterday, Thursday, the activities of the “Peace Building Perspectives in Arab Societies” conference, in Amman, Jordan. The conference was attended by HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Institute for Religious Studies and The Forum for Arab Thought. The conference was part of the Arab-Arab Dialogue Program of the Forum for Intercultural Dialogue (FID) of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services, in cooperation with the Royal Institute for Religious Studies in Amman. The conference was attended by a number of Arab thought leaders from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.
In the opening speech, the Director of CEOSS referred to the major and influential steps that the Egyptian state is taking today in order to support community peace, and said: “The Egyptian state plays a major role in supporting coexistence; President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi always emphasizes the need to build awareness. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi seeks to: build the Egyptian personality in all possible ways; develop society; give attention to building decent housing and infrastructure; confront terrorism and extremism; and promote awareness of the values of citizenship. All these are integrated axes that are indispensable to any of them.”
CEOSS director added saying: “The Dialogue Network currently includes 17 civil organizations and 4 leaders of Arab thought in their personal capacity. These organizations come from 8 Arab countries: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine and Iraq.”
On his part, HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies and President of the Arab Thought Forum, welcomed Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki for inviting him to this meeting and praised the work done by the Protestant church in Egypt since the end of the nineteenth century. It is the Protestant church in Egypt that established the first school for girls in “Al-Saqayin Alley” in Cairo in 1860 and established Ramses College for Girls in 1910, the latter being the largest language school for girls in Egypt. His Highness also referred to the important role played by the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services through development projects and various social initiatives.
His Highness stressed the need to pay attention to human capital and called for the establishment of a center for human studies in the Mediterranean basin. His Highness stressed the importance of focusing on the common denominators between us, respecting difference, and accepting diversity and pluralism in the Levant region, that includes the Byzantine gate and the Eastern gate. He pointed out that “respect for difference establishes a civilized state of coexistence on the basis of understanding, convergence, dialogue, development, moral partnerships and the preservation of human dignity.”
The conference sessions also discussed a number of important themes on the social and cultural dimensions of peacebuilding in Arab societies, religious dimensions of peacebuilding in Arab societies, educational dimensions of peacebuilding in Arab societies, as well as opportunities and challenges of peacebuilding and coexistence. It also presented mutual experiences on dealing with crises. Last came the final recommendations session.
The conference was attended by: the Director of the Royal Institute for Religious Studies, Dr. Renee Hattar; Professor Helmy Al-Namnam, former Minister of Culture; Dr. Maysoon Al-Atoum, Director of the Center for Women’s Studies at the University of Jordan; Dr. Muhammad Abu Hammour, Secretary-General of the Arab Thought Forum from Jordan; Professor Salah Al-Jourshi, researcher and political analyst from Tunisia; Father Dr. Jamal Khader, Latin Patriarchal Vicar in Jordan; Dr. Ali Badr, Member of Parliament from Egypt; Dr. Kholoud Al-Khatib, Professor of Public International Law at the Lebanese University; Prof. Dr. Hanan Youssef, Dean of the Faculty of Information at the Naval Academy from Egypt; Dr. Walid Shomali, Professor at Dar Al-Kalima University, Bethlehem from Palestine; Mr. Hamdi Rizk, journalistic writer from Egypt; Dr. Amer Al-Hafi, Professor of Religions and academic advisor at the Royal Institute for Religious Studies in Jordan; Dr. Ayman Abdel Wahab, Vice President of Al-Ahram Center For Political and Strategic Studies; Professor Masrour Aswad Mohieldin, former Commissioner for Human Rights from Iraq; Professor Hala Salem, Executive Director of Al-Quds Center for Political Studies; Mr. Riad Issa, from Volunteers Without Borders in Lebanon; Dr. Omar Rahal, from the Center for Human Rights and Democracy Media (Shams) from Palestine; Dr. Youssef Aguirakat, from the Mediator Association for Democracy and Human Rights from Morocco; Mr. Essam Shiha, President of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights; Ms. Samira Louka, Head of the Dialogue Sector at CEOSS; Sheikh Essam Wassef, Head of the Elders’ Affairs Council; and Ms. Heba Yousry, Program Director of the Forum for Intercultural Dialogue at CEOSS.
Also in attendance were: His Excellency Ambassador Khaled Al-Nasiri, the Ambassador of Morocco in Jordan; His Excellency Ambassador Khaled Al-Suhaili, the Ambassador of Tunisia in Jordan; Mr. Magdy Mohamed El-Derini, the Chargé d’Affairs of the Egyptian Ambassador to Jordan; Mr. Ahmed Hassan Mohamed, Counselor at the Iraqi Embassy in Jordan; Dr. Mohamed Al-Ghoul, former Mufti and Member of the Council of Trustees of the Royal Jordanian Institute for Religious Studies; Mr. Michel Marto, member of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Institute of Religious Studies; Ms. Nashwa El Deeb, Member of the Egyptian Parliament; Archbishop Joseph Jbara, Melkite Roman Catholic Archbishop; Dr. Hayel Daoud, former Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs and Holy Places; Father Antonios Sobhi Hanna ,representative of the Coptic Orthodox community in Jordan; and Reverend Faeq Haddad, pastor of the Arab Evangelical Episcopal Church.