Present at a celebration of the St Catherine Forum for Tolerance of Religions – held last Friday in St Catherine, and organised by the Culture Ministry affiliate the General Organisation of Culture Palaces – was South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda and Culture Minister Ines Abdel-Dayem as well as the ministers of Awqaf, Tourism, Antiquities, Immigration, Supply, Internal Trade, Local Development and Youth and Sports, together with a number of the MPs and executive officials. Present also were the ambassadors of Denmark, Ireland, Greece, Finland, Switzerland, the European Union, Georgia, Colombia, Japan, Poland, Austria, Serbia, France, Belgium, Armenia, Malta, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Cameroon, Oman, the Czech Republic and Tajikistan.
Entitled “Here We Pray Together”, the celebration was directed by artist Hisham Atwa, and featured a concert in which Sufi Muslim chanting was seamlessly fused with Coptic hymns as well as performances by ensembles from Croatia, Romania, Greece and Morocco. The Egyptian contribution also featured an ensemble from Aswan, the Al-Tanoura Whirling dervishes, singer Maher Mahmoud and the Evangelical Ensemble. Opening with a recitation of the Quran, the event closed with all participating ministers and ambassadors going on stage to join in songs in praise of Egypt.
According to Abdel-Dayem, “The St Catherine Forum delivers a message of love and tolerance to humanity and human civilisation from Egypt, a country that has maintained its unique identity through the ages, presenting a model of coexistence.” She added that the St Catherine Forum aims to promote the values of brotherhood among peoples and sends a message of love and tolerance to human civilisation, pointing out that this celebration emphasises the ability of arts and creativity to extend bridges of communication.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 17 October, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.