At the beginning of the meeting, Ms. Samira Louka, Senior Head of the Dialogue Sector of the Coptic Evangelical Organization, welcomed the attendees and participants in the conference, stressing the importance of tolerance, which is the theme of the conference, because it is the basis on which life is built and citizens coexist, and through which citizenship is achieved. Ms. Samira Luka also assured that the dialogue sector in the organization is based on several axes for twenty years now, from which the program of Christian and Muslim female preachers branched out. And now the dialogue is working in its parallel direction, which is to activating the dialogue in reality in the presence of imams and clergy from the religious institutions, led by its leaders, which is evident in the presence of Dr. Muhammad Mokhtar Jumaa, Minister of AlAwqaf and Dr. Andrea Zaki, head of the Evangelical community in Egypt and head of the Coptic Evangelical Organization, side by side to activate tolerance and dialogue in reality.
During his speech, Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki affirmed his welcome to the participants in the conference, pointing out that the power of tolerance is a way of life, and it is a vision that we need to establish in society, not that something different would be between the people of the same nation.
He said that what happened in the Abu Sefein church incident in Imbaba reinforces what we say about coexistence, the spirit of cooperation and love, and that there is a model of coexistence that must be studied, along with the impact of the tolerance approach on a number of axes.
He also pointed out the necessity of clarifying and defining terminology, since confusing some of the terms may cause some problems, and that tolerance is understood as transcending the common and reaching the right to differ. Here comes the room for the other who is different than me.
He continued, saying, that man is God’s creation and is honored by all races, and he has a responsibility in the reconstruction of the earth. Hence, the difference must be based on acquaintance and coexistence, and that all religions call for tolerance, and the religious texts are by nature tolerant, and there is no dispute about its teachings, but the problem lies in some interpretations that want to hijack the text and configure it to serve up some ideas.
Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki noted that the security and safety of societies stem from the principle of tolerance, which enables everyone to work and grow.
For his part, the Minister of Awqaf said, during his participation in the Forum for Intercultural Dialogue organized by the Coptic Evangelical Organization, entitled “Tolerance and Confronting Violence… From Principle to Implementation,” in the presence of Dr. Andrea Zaki, Head of the Evangelical Community, and a number of scholars, media professionals, members of the House of Representatives and Senate and public figures – that the forum contributes in supporting the noble values within the Egyptian society, pointing out that this forum is a part of a general strategy of the Egyptian state, and that everyone has faith in the power of true citizenship, and that everything that comes out of the forum, we work to implement in reality.
Dr. Mokhtar Jumaa, Minister of Awqaf, stressed that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has been keen, since assuming responsibility for governance, to consolidate the principle of citizenship, and that there is no difference between the people of the same homeland, and that some terms have faded and expired, and that all Egyptians are equal according to the principle of equal citizenship.
Dr. Mokhtar Jumaa added that tolerance is not only accepting the differences, but also taking into account the feelings of the others and being keen on pure patriotic affection, pointing out that there is a tendency to conduct courses for all imams to study the construction of sermons, and that there are trainings for 5,000 imams over a period of a month for education, for the clergy builds and doesn’t tare down, and he gathers and does not divide. This is the authentic role of the clergyman.
He continued, saying that there is a need to know the meaning of the sentence, and that there should be a distance from ready-made sentences, and that a person must realize the value of every word he says and know its dimensions, and take into account the feelings of others in every word and movement.
He also pointed out that the principle of tolerance must be applied between everyone, between members of the same religion and the family members, and between neighbors. Tolerance should be in all human relationships, and that all religions forbade cheating, contempt, and speculation, and that all religions are mercy, forgiveness and patience.