Pope Shenouda Urges Muslim “Lobby” in The West

Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Mark Diocese called on Muslim minorities in the West to form influential “lobbies” to champion Islam awareness campaigns and launch multi-lingual media channels for an effective interaction with their respective societies.

“Muslim minorities in the West are tackling their affairs on their own with no coordination whatsoever,” the top Coptic cleric told the 18th conference of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (SCIA) on Thursday, April 6.

“When can we see an influential Islamic or Arab lobby in the West?” he wondered.

Attended by a host of dignitaries from the Muslim world, the four-day Cairo-hosted event kicked off Thursday, April 6, to discuss problems of the Muslim world under globalization.

Delegations from the United States, France, Spain, Italy and a number of foreign countries are also partaking in the conference.

Pope Shenouda said Muslim and Arab minorities in the West have great untapped potentials.

“They should try their best to get staunch supporters for their issues, but this can be only done through permanent coordination with their countries of origin,” he said.

He said mastering foreign languages is a must for Muslim immigrants to spread untwisted information about their religion.

“Multi-lingual satellite channels and newspapers are also needed to reach out to the west,” he added.

“Arab literary works and masterpieces should be further translated into different languages to dust our heritage off.”

Pope Shenouda urged the Arab and Muslim people to deal with the West in a different mindset.

“We should draw lessons from China, which realized the needs of its target clients in a highly globalized world.”

Islamic Identity

Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak also underlined the need to promote a constructive inter-faith dialogue based on mutual respect.

He put forward a couple of ideas to stand up to the daunting challenges of globalization.

“Muslims should first and foremost stick close to their Islamic identity, their own characteristics and protect their sanctities,” Mubarak said in a speech delivered on his behalf by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif.

“But Muslims should not retreat in their own shell, but rather open up to the world and make use of the state-of-the-art technologies unfolding out there.”

The Egyptian leader further urged cooperation between the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the G-8 and other international bodies.

“This would help enable the Muslim world to play an effective role in the international arena,” he added.

Egyptian Minister of Waqfs Mahmoud Hamdy Zaqzouq, however, said a backward Muslim world is to blame for the anti-Islam campaigns in the West including the cartoons standoff.

“Backwardness of Muslims has reflected in the way the West deals with the pressing Muslim issues,” he told the conference.

The Egyptian minister; nevertheless, set an upbeat mood.

“We should not give in to desperation or pessimism; but rather see these circumstances as a catalyst to overcome our problems,” he said.

Spain, which co-championed with Turkey the UN-backed Alliance of Civilizations, urged the West on Monday, April 4, to engage in a more constructive dialogue with the Muslim world to promote mutual understanding.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos said the West must get more engaged with the Arab and Muslim countries.

“It is the best way to overcome a future crisis,” he averred, in a veiled reference to the Danish cartoons that lampooned Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and plunged the Muslim world and the West into the worst crisis in recent history.