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Middle East Christians on Arab summit agenda

The Arab League is acting to "carefully approach" the file of Christians in the Arab world, League chief tells Ahram Online in exclusive interview

Dina Ezzat , Monday 17 Jan 2011
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"Muslims and Christians of the Arab world have always lived together; the past, present and the future of this nation is shared amongst us all," said Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. "They are partners," he added.

Speaking to Ahram Online by phone from Sharm El-Sheikh, the venue of the second Arab Economic Summit that will open Wednesday, the Arab League Chief said that this matter "of the unity of the peoples of the Arab world" will be present in the works of the summit that is essentially designed to address socio-economic matter.

In his presentation of the matter to the summit, Moussa said, he will not indulge in the details of the shocking attacks on Christians both in Iraq and Egypt during the past few weeks. "What I am proposing relates to the social side of the issue; it is about the preservation of the joint cultural heritage that we have jointly made and that we can keep from the harm of terrorists," he said.

Moussa categorically rejected all questions suggesting that this initiative on his side was coming in reaction to criticism leveled in several world capitals, and for that matter in the Vatican, on the threats facing Christians in the Middle East in the wake of recent attacks and in light of threats of further terrorist attempts.

"Absolutely not," Moussa said. "I actually insist that this matter should be dealt with away from any exercise of patronizing foreign intervention," he added.

Moussa was in Iraq last week for meetings on the preparations of the next Arab summit. During his visit, he made a point to meet with several Christian church leaders to listen to their views and concerns on the matter.

Also while in Iraq, Moussa attended a mass at the Notre-Dame du Perpetuel Secours Church, which was the prior target of a terror attack.

In Cairo, prior to his trip to Iraq, the Arab League Secretary-General had already met with Pope Shenouda, the patriarch of Egypt's Orthodox Church, to convey condolences for the loss of innocent lives in the attack on the Two Saints Church in Alexandria.

During his meetings with the Christian leadership both in Egypt and Iraq, Moussa offered assurances over the commitment of the Arab organization to promote the causes of continued peaceful co-existence. His interlocutors also underlined commitment to resolve all causes for possible sectarian anxiety within the framework of their own societies.

"It is a matter of equal citizenship in all Arab societies that we are all committed to," he told Ahram Online.

This is going to be the first time that the file of Christians in the Middle East would be tabled on the works of an official Arab meeting. Moussa, speaking Ahram Online, refused to share plans for follow-up, but said the file is a highly sensitive one that the Arab organisation will "carefully approach".
 

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