During a speech marking the anniversary of Muhammad’s birth, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi again made historic remarks speaking to Islamic scholars about the need for religious freedom and acceptance of all religions.
According to Egyptian Streets, President Sisi urged reform of Islamic discourse and called on Islamic scholars to send Christmas greetings to Christians. In the televised speech to Islamic scholars, President Sisi stated, “We talk a lot about the importance of religious discourse… In our schools, institutes and universities, do we teach and practice respect for the others?” He continued, “We neither teach or practice it.”
Egyptian Streets quoted President Sisi during the speech, stating, “God did not create the world for the ‘ummah’ [Arabic for ‘nation’ or ‘community’] to be alone. [He didn’t create it] for one community, but for communities. [He didn’t create it] for one religion, but for religions.”
President Sisi continued, “Can I impose upon someone pressure, physically or morally, to change their religion? Would God accept this?… What are we afraid of? Are we custodians of people’s minds or choices? No, we are not. In religion specifically, no. Each of us will be judged independently… and [people] will have to answer [for their choices and what they choose to believe].”
He also stated during the speech that “he does not allow anyone to tell him Christians should be treated differently.”
January 2015, President Sisi also gave a historic speech to Islamic scholars marking the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday where he called for a religious revolution within Islam.
Last Christmas, President Sisi made a historic surprise visit to Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo on January 7th during Egypt’s Christmas service. He saluted Pope Tawadros II and addressed the attendees, stating that Muslims and Christians are celebrating the religious event and are “one entity” in the world’s eyes.
“We will love each other for real, so that people may see,” President Sis said to the worshipers. President Sisi was the first President to visit the St. Mark Cathedral during Coptic Christmas Eve Mass.
Surprisingly, the mainstream media has failed to recognize the historic and unprecedented speeches of Egypt’s President Sisi. During a time when the voice of the moderate Muslim is needed more than ever in the war against extremism, the words of President Sisi should be elevated and backed up by the Western world. President Sisi has yet to be invited to the United States on an official visit by President Obama, although he has been invited and has visited most European countries, including a recent visit to the UK.
On June 30th, 2013, 33 million Egyptians, out of a population of 85 million, took to the streets to call for early elections and the removal of Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi. After the removal of Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood burned down 70 churches throughout Egypt retaliating against Christians.
Egypt has been fighting a war against terrorism since the removal of Islamist President Morsi in 2013. Over 600 Egyptian military and policemen have been killed since July 2013 by terrorists. Ansar Bayt al Maqdis (ABM) the main jihadist organization operating in the Sinai province, swore allegiance to the Islamic State’s Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in November 2014. Egypt also defends its borders against the threat from Libya. 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded by Islamic State militants in Libya last February and 21 Egyptian soldiers were killed in July 2014 close to the Libyan border.
View President Sisi’s recent speech to Islamic scholars (in Arabic) below: