In a recent address to diplomats, Papa Benedetto brought up the 31 December 2010 bomb attack on the Coptic church in Alexandria. He said the bombing was a sign of “the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities”. Sounds to me like the Pope was simply doing what he should as the head of the Catholic Church to speak out in defense of fellow Christians.
The next day the Egyptian government recalled its ambassador to the Vatican, bringing her back to Cairo “for consultation”. Then Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, president of al-Azhar University in Cairo, & members of the Islamic Research Academy announced they are suspending all dialogue with the Vatican to protest those remarks about anti-Christian violence in Egypt. Sheik el-Tayeb had previously criticised the Pope’s remarks as “unacceptable interference in Egypt’s affairs.”
This reaction by Egypt & the scholors raises some questions. Like "Why should they be upset that Papa Benedetto said what he did?"
& "Aren't they being a bit hypocritical since anything that happens to any Muslim anywhere in the world is open to be criticised by Muslim scholars?" "They can do it, but the Pope can't?"
Are these scholars saying that they really don't want an honest dialogue? That, as Dr. William Oddie says in the article linked to below, dialogue with them is a waste of time?
That article mentions a recent fatwa that may answer what is really going on. Dr Imad Mustafa, a colleague of Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb at the al-Azhar University, said “Two schools [of Islamic jurisprudence] have ruled that offensive jihad is permissible in order to secure Islam’s border, to extend God’s religion to people in cases where the governments do not allow it, such as the Pharaoh did with the children of Israel, and to remove every religion but Islam from the Arabian peninsula.”
Is Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb saying he agrees with this fatwa & approves of the violence done against the Coptic Church? That they should be driven out along with all other Christians & Jews? It sure seems to me that it could be taken that way.
Never mind that the Coptic Orthodox Church traces its roots back to the Church of Alexandria established by St Mark the evangelist in the middle of the 1st century (approximately AD 42). The Catholic Coptic Church & the Melkite Greek Catholic Church also trace their roots back to St. Mark's work as well. Mustafa is saying that fact doesn't matter. Islam trumps all, including human rights & history.
What is scary is another part of that same fatwa. Mustafa said “Then there is another type of fighting against the non- Muslims known as offensive jihad... which is to pursue the infidels into their own land without any aggression [on their part]..." Basicly, what a supposed mainline cleric has said, is that the actions of groups like al-Qaida is main stream Muslim behavior not out there on the fringe. It doesn't mean that most Muslims will act on this stance. What it does mean is that radical groups now have mainstream support for their most extreme, aggressive behavior. & that doesn't bode well for a reduction of violence in the near future. & not just in the Middle East.
This can be taken to be the OK to see a return to the 7th Century style wars of conquest by the Muslims as well.
It also means that many of those who are saying the violent faction is on the fringe have to face the fact that they are wrong. Mustafa is anything but a part of the fringe. Ditto with el-Tayeb.
Sources: Top Muslim scholars announce boycott of dialogue with Vatican‘Top Muslim scholars’ seem to be telling us that dialogue with them is a waste of time