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Imam asks Pope to speak out against persecution of Copts

Middle East and North Africa

Imam asks Pope to speak out against persecution of Copts

A leading British Muslim has called on Pope Francis to speak out about the persecution of Christians when he meets the  President of Egypt later this month.

Imam Ibrahim Mogra, assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain and an alumnus of Al-Azhar University where Pope Francis is expected to speak, made the request in a visit to the Vatican.

The Imam who met with Francis on Thursday 6 April, said, “I think his visit to Egypt is going to be an historic development in Christian-Muslim relations, and I’m sure having read what I’ve read about his holiness he will not remain silent.”

Imam Mogra gave his view at the Venerable English College, in Rome adding that he had, “requested that he (Pope Francis) must raise the questions of Christian minorities in Muslim countries. And the scholars at Al-Azhar, and the Gand Imams and the Grand Muftis and their team must speak out against the mistreatment of minorities, particularly Christians in Egypt and in other parts of the Middle East.”

Imam Mogra said killings in the name of God are “totally un-Islamic” arguing that extremists were incorrectly manipulating the Koran’s teaching to justify evil actions. He argued that Christians and Muslims have had a “wonderful history of co-existence”, pointing out that the Coptic church had existed in Egypt long before Islam arrived.

“Sadly things have really deteriorated… I’m sure His Holiness will register his concern and remind Muslim leaders in Egypt and political leaders that it is their religious and political duties to safeguard the religious rights – and the human rights – of the minority communities.”

Pope Francis is “a highly respected leader in the Muslim world,” the Imam explained. “He has been fair, he has been principled, he has demonstrated Christianity. He’s displaying what a true Christian is, and that penetrates hearts, minds and borders.”

Mogra hopes this visit will also underscore the narrative that Islam is a peaceful religion.

“Sadly some followers of all of our religions misuse some of the teachers, or misinterpret them,” he explained. “Or they try to use religion to justify their evil. If you have Muslims shouting God’s name in a murderous act I don’t believe that is caused by Islam: that is a totally un-Islamic act.”

He continued, “You can’t blame Islam as a religion for the actions of evil Muslims. Likewise, I would be the first to object anyone blaming Judaism for the action of settlers in the occupied territories, or people blaming Christianity for what Christians have done in the Central African Republic, or blaming Hinduism for what Hindus did in Gujarat or Buddhism for what Buddhists are doing in Myanmar.”