World View: Abbas Rescinds on 'Right of Return'

World View: Abbas Rescinds on 'Right of Return'

This morning’s key headlines from

  • After being called ‘traitor’, Abbas rescinds on ‘right of return’
  • Russia’s nationalists turn against Putin
  • Egypt’s Coptic Christians select a new Pope at time of anxiety

After being called ‘traitor’, Abbas rescinds on ‘right of return’

Hamas supporters carry signs calling Abbas a 'traitor'
Hamas supporters carry signs calling Abbas a ‘traitor’

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas appeared to concede thedemand that they be able to return to their ancestral homes in Israelhas been a foundational demand for the two-state negotiations, andmany called him a “traitor.” However, on Sunday Abbas reversedhimself, saying that his previous remarks were only “personal,” notapplicable to all Palestinians:

“Talking about Safad is a personal position and doesnot mean giving up the right of return.

No one can give up the right of return as all international textsand Arab and Islamic decisions refer to a just and agreed solutionto the refugee issue, according to U.N. Resolution 194, with theterm ‘agreed on’ meaning agreed with the Israeli side.

I do not change my position – what I say to the Palestinians is nodifferent from what I say to the Israelis or the Americans oranyone.”

Daily Star (Beirut) / AFP

Russia’s nationalists turn against Putin

In recent years, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has courted ethnicRussian nationalists to be allies in his ongoing effort to restore themight of the Russian empire, bringing the North Caucasus under controland even adding to Russia’s territory the two breakaway provinces thatRussia “liberated” from Georgia during the 2008 war. Russia’snationalists used to agree with Putin’s agenda, but recently theiragenda has transformed significantly. According to an analyst, “Theydon’t want to expand Russia, they don’t want to hear about its greaterEurasian status — Putin’s favorite game. They want to get rid of thetroublesome North Caucasus and its inhabitants they refuse toacknowledge as Russian citizens.” 5,000 young nationalist protesterstook to the streets on Sunday, Russia’s annual Day of National Unity,and mixed numerous chants filled with ethnic hatred with bitterdenunciations of Putin, some comparing him to Hitler. LA Times

Egypt’s Coptic Christians select a new Pope at time of anxiety

The young blindfolded altar boy hands over the name of the new Pope of Alexandria on Sunday.  His choice is thought to have been guided by God. (BBC)
The young blindfolded altar boy hands over the name of the new Pope of Alexandria on Sunday. His choice is thought to have been guided by God. (BBC)

On Sunday, in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo’s Abbasiya district, anEgyptian Coptic cleric named Wagih Sobhy Bakky Suleiman was chosen tobecome the “Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa in the HolySee of St Mark the Apostle,” under the name Pope Tawadros II.

He was one of three finalists chosen by vote. The three finalistnames were put into a glass bowl. A young altar boy was selected tomake the final choice. The child was blindfolded, and then he reachedinto the bowl with a hand that believers say was guided by God, andwithdrew the name of Tawadros. (Why can’t we choose our Presidentthis way?)

The Coptic Christian Church was founded by Saint Mark the Evangelist,who was one of the “Seventy Disciples” who were sent out by Jesus tospread the gospel. He lost faith for a while, but later was restoredto faith and was the author of the New Testament’s gospel according toMark. He became the Bishop of Alexandria for what has since becomethe Coptic Church. The Church flourished, and at one time wasprominent not only in Egypt but throughout all of western Africa.Today, there are dioceses in Ethiopia, in Europe, Armenia and theUnited States. Pastoral responsibility falls to the Priests, who mustbe married.

The Prophet Mohammed is said to have given special dispensation to theCoptic Christians in Egypt, and they have gone through centuries ofgreat freedom, alternating with centuries of great persecution.Today, Egypt’s ten million Coptic Christians are still nominally freeto worship as they choose, but they’re still in shock over last year’s

The death last Spring of Pope Shenouda III, the 117’th CopticPatriarch of Alexandria, left Egypt’s Copts anxious and frightenedabout their future, at a time when the Muslim Brotherhood has beengaining political power. But it also represented an opportunity forgreater freedom: Over 2,000 Coptic Christians from Egypt visited theHoly Land for Easter, defying a ban imposed on visiting Jerusalem andIsraeli-controlled areas. The ban has been in effect for threedecades, imposed by the Coptic leader Shenouda to protest Egypt’s 1979peace agreement with Israel.

Tawadros is the 118’th Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria, that began withSt. Mark, and Egypt’s Copts see him as the “light at the end of thetunnel” after the strict rule of Shenouda, and occasional violentincidents since the Maspero massacre. In particular, since lastyear’s revolution in Egypt, young Copts have begun engaging inpolitics, which was strongly discouraged by Shenouda. Copts expectthe new pope to guarantee their rights and make them feel safe in thepost-revolution Egypt. Tawadros will be the Copts’ main contact withEgypt’s first Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, and Copts will expecthim to make sure that Morsi keeps to his promise of freedom ofreligion for all of Egypt’s citizens. Egypt Independent and Al-Ahram (Cairo) and New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia

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