When performing a public task of national dimensions, there is no way to satisfy all parties or handle it perfectly. Nevertheless, Mr. Amr Moussa, chairman of Egypt’s 50-member panel tasked with amending the Islamist-drafted constitution, stayed impartial throughout his moderation of the sessions, and was able to walk the thin line between diplomacy and political responsibility.
Dr. Mohammed Salmawy, spokesman for the panel, also acted with great sensitivity and chose his words with care when he spoke to the media. The clerics who took part in the discussions also brought wisdom and a spirit of tolerance to proceedings.
I was in London and Paris during the writing of the constitution and many of the people I met voiced appreciation for the reference to religion in its broad sense; namely, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, in the text. During the launch of the English version of the book on religious tolerance, titled “Three Windows on Heaven – Acceptance of Others, Dialogue and Peace in the Sacred Texts of the Three Abrahamic Religions”, which I edited, I was pleased to see how the audience appreciated the chance to be part of the quest for religious harmony among the followers of the three monotheistic religions, and I did not notice any hesitation on the part of Muslims and Christians toward Judaism.
In 1994, the late Grand Imam Gad al-Haq Ali Gad al-Haq gave his unwavering support to the Sorbonne Interfaith Conference in Paris entitled: “The future of Islamic – Christian – Jewish dialogue and the dangers that threaten it”. Sheikh Gad al-Haq once told me that we must differentiate between the State of Israel on the one hand and Judaism as a religion on the other. As religion, Judaism is the subject of recognition by Muslims.
I am indebted to him for delegating Dr. Mahmoud Hamdy Zaqzouq, former Minister of Awqaf, who was, at that time, dean of the Faculty of Theology, and a leading figure in the dialogue among religions, who attended the conference with Cardinal Franz König and Grand Rabbi Sirat of France. After the Sorbonne Conference, Grand Rabbi Sirat, in a rare interview on Egyptian TV with Moufid Fawzy, said: “As a professor of comparative religions, I’d like to explain that I’ve read every single word in the Quran and Hadith and have not seen a single word to justify violence or extremism”.
By mentioning all three monotheistic religions, those who drafted the constitution must have our lasting gratitude for showing us the path to much-needed tolerance and for emphasizing the need to respect others. The text they penned is a lasting reminder of the ideals of the June 30 Revolution. And their insistence on banning the formation of political parties based on religion could not be timelier.
translated from Al Yom 7