President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt welcomed yesterday a delegation of 16 archbishops from the Anglican Global South, led by Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis, chairman of the Global South Steering Committee.
In a discussion lasting 90 minutes, 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.
Sisi 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 Sisi for visiting the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo for Coptic Christmas on January 7, to which Sisi replied it was his joy to be able to bring such joy to others.
Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo of Sudan and South Sudan thanked Sisi for looking after the refugees in Egypt, the majority of whom are Sudanese.
At the end of the meeting Anis thanked 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 Bishop Paul Butler of Durham in the UK, a member of the House of Lords.