Relgious dialogue has to be based on truth. Otherwise, it’s a sham.
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The government also routinely interferes with Copts simply seeking to live out their faith. The state often refuses to allow construction or repair of churches or other buildings, even those for social functions. Christians have been ordered to take down crosses outside of churches and even charged for private worship without a permit. Moreover, the government has discriminated against Copts when fulfilling its civil role, such as issuing identification cards.
Egypt’s wretched record is well established. In its report last year on international religious freedom, the State Department observed: “Christians and members of the Baha’i faith, which the government does not recognize, face personal and collective discrimination, especially in government employment and their ability to build, renovate, and repair places of worship. The government also sometimes arrested, detained, and harassed Muslims such as Shi’a. Ahmadiyas, Quaranists, converts from Islam to Christianity, and members of other religious groups whose beliefs and/or practices it deemed to deviate from mainstream Islamic beliefs and whose activities it alleged to jeopardize communal harmony.”
For the same reasons the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom placed Egypt on its “watch list.” The Commission pointed to widespread “discrimination, intolerance, and other human rights violations against members of religious minorities, as well as disfavored Muslims.” Last year’s Commission report cited “a significant upsurge in violence” against Copts as well as “a growing climate of impunity” for those who commit such crimes.
The group International Christian Concern placed Egypt in this year’s annual “Hall of Shame.” Explained ICC: “While Egypt escaped being included in the Hall of Shame in 2010, escalating atrocities committed against the Arab world’s largest Christian minority forced us to include Egypt in this year’s report.” Indeed, last year, reported ICC, was “one of Egypt’s worse years of persecution in recent memory.”
One can’t help but wonder where Pope Benedict came up with the silly idea that Christians face discrimination and persecution in the Middle East. No wonder the al-Azhar Islamic Research Council was upset. Tsk, tsk.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi responded to the Council decision: “The pontifical council for inter-religious dialogue’s line of openness and desire to dialogue is unchanged.” That’s a truly “Christian” response, but the Vatican obviously should not expect the same in return, at least not from its Islamic counterparts.
There is much to criticize in the policies of Western governments, including of the U.S. But that has nothing to do with an inter-faith dialogue. It certainly has nothing to do with how Christians, Jews, Baha’is, and other religious minorities are, or at least should be, treated in majority Muslim nations.
Moreover, until Muslim governments treat all of their people, irrespective of faith, with respect and dignity, they have no credibility to complain about the treatment of Muslims elsewhere. As Jesus explained, we should take the plank out of our own eye before seeking to pull a speck out of someone else’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5). His advice should be widely shared and, more importantly, heeded in Cairo and throughout the Muslim world.
Mr. Bandow is a Senior Fellow in International Religious Persecution at the Institute on Religion and Public Policy.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online