President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt welcomed today a delegation of 16 archbishops from the Anglican Global South, led by the Most Rev. Mouneer Hanna Anis, Primate of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, Bishop of Egypt, and chairman of the Global South Steering Committee.
In a discussion lasting 90 minutes, President al-Sisi affirmed the important role religious leaders play in peacemaking, helping spread a culture of tolerance and accepting the ‘other’.
Unfortunately, he said, extremists in religion do not accept diversity, calling anyone who disagrees with them an ‘infidel’ worthy to be killed.
The president told the archbishops that Egypt is keen to guarantee freedom of belief and worship for all its citizens, stressing the need to reform religious discourse to confront such extremism.
The archbishops commended President al-Sisi for visiting the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo for Coptic Christmas on January 7, to which he replied it was his joy to be able to bring such joy to others.
The Most Rev. Ezekiel Kondo, Archbishop of Sudan and Bishop of Khartoum, thanked President al-Sisi for looking after the refugees in Egypt, the majority of whom are Sudanese.
At the end of the meeting Dr. Anis thanked President al-Sisi for their warm reception, and spoke of the efforts of the Egyptian diocese to build bridges between the different faith communities.
The meeting was also attended by the British ambassador to Egypt, John Casson, joining the Rt. Rev. Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham.