Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Al-Azhar objects a Movie on Jesus, And Its Scholars criticizes Prince Charles honorary doctorate

Many believe that Egypt is secular country or make believe, however the role of the Sunni Al-Azhar institution as a regulatory, censor body of the power to ban and control arts, books and music poses a bog question whether we are a Muslim or an Islamic country. There is a big difference between the two. Al Azhar institution takes the liberity to release fatwas to cripple and stifle a free intellectual art life in Egypt to replace it with and Islamist life.

One of the roles, Al Azhar pretends to play is creating a dialogue between religions. In my opinion dialogues between nations, peoples of different sects or religions necessitate openness and transparency.

Growing up in Egypt as a Muslim, I attended my religion classes at school. At university, there is no such a thing unless your degree has to do to with religions. My school classes included Christians and Muslims. When my religion class begins, Copts have to leave the class to attend their own class as well. I never knew what is in their religion books. They did not know what we are studying as well. We shared all classes except religion. If this normal and fine:

Why Copts have to watch and listen all our religion programs on TV and radio that at least occupy 30% of the Egyptian Government transmission time?

Why Muslims in Egypt have a 24 hour Islamic Government radio station and there is no Copt station for even half a day?

Coming to the movie issue that Al Azhar wants to ban, why with every Islamic occasion, there is a flood of Islamic movies aired on government TV channels and radio stations all day to mark the occasion that are imposed on everyone including non-practicing or secular Muslims not only Copts per se? If Muslims in Egypt have the right to produce this huge amount of Islamic movies why Egyptian Copts are not allowed?

If we do not know anything about each other religions, why in our history classes there is a big section on Islamic Egypt and not Coptic Egypt. I did not study anything about the history of Egypt when was it was Copt? If I am not supposed to learn about Copts' religion, I believe as an Egyptian citizen I am entitled to a non-bias education.

If any religious institution in Egypt is claiming tolerance and religion dialogues bla bla bla, it has to begin by bringing people together not on Iftar (break-the-fast meal) in Ramadan but by bringing them together to learn about each other and respect difference. The bias of the Muslim Egyptians against Egyptian Copts is created by the lack of knowledge. If children grow up in Egypt to learn that Egyptian Copts have the same rights as Egyptian Muslims, we will not need to call for learning about each other religions, simply because equal citizenship is the answer.

Al-Azhar rejects depiction of Jesus in an Egyptian movie due to be shot in Egypt, producer says it has no right to intervene. Now, Al Azhar is teaching us another lesson, Muslims have the right to produce moves as much as they want and Copts are banned. Two days ago I read in the news that the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt will supervise the production of the movie from the historical point of view. The movie is intended to reflect the Coptic Church believes which will make the movie so different from the western movies. Today's news means that Al-Azhar is overruling the decision of the Coptic Church in Egypt. I have no reason for that except claiming supremacy.

According the Middle East Online - A film due to be shot in Egypt on the life of Jesus Christ has stirred protests from the highest authority in Sunni Islam, the Al-Azhar institution in Cairo.

Abdel Mooti Bayumi, an Al-Azhar professor, noted Monday that the institution had issued fatwas, or religious edicts, against any "depiction of the prophets" - which is the way Jesus is regarded in Islam.

In the meantime, Al Azhar University’s plan to award Britain's Prince Charles an honorary doctorate was opposed by some Islamic scholars, who said Monday the heir to the British throne did not deserve the honor.

Al Azhar institution comprises; AL - AZHAR supreme council, Islamic Research Academy, Islamic scholars’ city, AL - AZHAR University, AL - AZHAR Institutes.

Photo: The Duchess of Cornwall was given flowers by students from British schools after her arrival at Al-Azhar Park.

This park has nothing to do with Al Azhar. It is named after the name of the district. It is a beautiful area to visit in Cairo.


At 4:50 PM, Blogger Egypeter said...

FFE - Your open-mindedness, tolerance and itnelligence is a deep deep breath of fresh air!!

I only wish more Egyptians (in Egypt) shared your views. Hell, I wish more people around the world shared your views!

Al-Azhar University is one of the biggest problems in Egypt. It's as if they have more power in Egypt than Muburak himself! This public university is funded by ALL Egyptians, Christians and Muslims, yet only admits Muslims...that should be enough to tell you what kind of a university it is. Besides the fact that they just kicked out that blogger for his views. Shouldn't institutions of higher learning be promoting free thought, critical thinking and progressive views???

At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Azharite institution is blindly supported and given unquestionable legitimacy by some Egyptian Muslims because it's a purported source of 'nationalistic, patriotic pride'.
The Azharite institution might be very old, but even within the Islamic world I do not believe that it is given the reverence that its Egyptian supporters would like to imagine that it has.

At 5:37 PM, Blogger Tarek said...

I agree with you that El Azhar or any other authority shall not take the big brother role, and stop deciding for people.

At 8:24 PM, Blogger Rod said...

Just discovered your Blog and came to explore. Enjoy it immensely, though it seems to load rather slowly.


At 12:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog is so spot on !Imagine if all egyptians shared the same religious holidays. Then sharing the joys associated with a Holyday & its tradition can start the ball rolling from a social & cultural aspect.
Egypt need not look far:
Lebanon & Malaysia have similar societies. All the citizens share & celebrate the same holy(i)days.Its fun and normal folks engage in each other traditions ..Keep ur blog rolling, I admire U!

At 10:58 AM, Blogger Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I'm curious. Did you have religion textbooks that you were allowed to bring home? Were you ever tempted to swap them for a night with your Coptic classes, or even to read the Bible? I'm aware you would have had to 'read them under the covers,' or the Egyptian equivalent, but weren't each of you curious enough to do that?

Just a thought.

At 12:15 PM, Blogger myfingerisonthebutton said...

I love your posts. Egypt would be in such a better position if religion did not dominate the populace like it has. Although I am of Coptic ancestory, I remain totaly secular because I am Egyptian only, not solely a Coptic-Egyptian.

"Religion is for God, Egypt is for the Egyptians"

At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First I would to thank you for your open mindedness.
I wish I could have met Muslim Friend like you in Egypt?

ok it may sound too odd, but it is true..
one of the books they use in Al Azhar states that man does not have to pay for his wife's funeral, because he is not benefiting from her any more!!
in other word she is a useless dead slave!!!

I know that is not the case in reality in Egypt (so far) but this show what kind of education this university offers.

How about the passion of the Christ?
Did not they allow it to be showed in Egypt?


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