Update on the situation in Imbaba – Archbishop Mouneer Anis

Disturbing news from Egypt; Mouneer Annis the Anglican Archbishop writes of an attack upon a church and Christian community there:

Yesterday, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar called for an emergency meeting of Beth EI-Eila (the House of the Family), a newly formed group which includes the heads of Christian denominations and several Muslim leaders and the Grand Imam. We all agreed that this incident should be taken very seriously by the authorities, and that those who caused these destructive clashes must be brought to justice. It is worth mentioning that previous clashes between Christians and Muslims have always been solved through community reconciliation. The meeting also appointed a committee to go and visit Imbaba, and report back. I was one of this committee, and we spent eight hours today visiting and listening, and then writing a report to the wider committee.

The damage we saw was indescribable. The area looked as if it was a battlefield, because of the many tanks and soldiers. I was moved by the story of one of the guards of St. Mary’s Church, who refused to denounce Jesus Christ and as a result, his throat was slit. This is at least the fifth tragic incident since the first day of the year, when a church was bombed in Alexandria. There is no doubt that inter-religious tension is growing in Egypt, and this needs a real strategic plan to combat it. This is what we are trying to do through Beth El-Eila.

The full story is here.

Find Heaven – Challenging extremism with music

Following the death of Osama Bin Laden, the question naturally arises – what next? The US was right to pursue Bin Laden, and others like him who order and commit acts of terrorism, but at it’s heart the  fight against Islamic extremism is a fight for hearts and minds. The fear is that across Pakistan and other parts of the Muslim world (including outposts of that world in the UK) that fight is not being engaged as it needs to be.

What is the way forward? I don’t know, but I do find this cartoon both challenging and moving – it’s creator Daniyal Noorani a Pakistani Muslim living in the US made it in part to encourage his co-religionists to ask questions of those who propose easy (violent) answers to the problems of the Muslim world.

He writes:

In my music video, “Find Heaven,” I depict some of the flaws of Pakistani society, and show how this has led to impoverished Pakistanis being manipulated into taking part in terrorism for the gain of a few. I have been leveraging social media to highlight how Islamist extremists are taking advantage of the socially, economically and politically despondent situation in Pakistan and are luring disenchanted Pakistanis to their cause by offering them the promise and rewards of “Heaven.” While writing “Find Heaven” I considered it more a narrative that highlighted society’s failings as opposed to a statement against Islamist extremists. The whole narrative would still be valid if Islamist extremists were replaced by politicians who offered the impoverished a form of Heaven via power, fame and money. But I chose to highlight the modus operandi Islamist extremists use to further their ideology, as I believe they pose the most immediate threat to Pakistan.

As we in the West who are Christians pray for Pakistan and an end to violence of ‘Jihad’, let us pray for a flowering of a movement of musicians / artists / poets / writers and cartoonists who will challenge the easy answers of the extremists, and challenge us too to be faithful in our following of the One who is known as the Prince of Peace.