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Egyptian Church spokesman: papal visit is antidote to Middle East tensions

September 13, 2012

A spokesman for Catholic Church leaders in Egypt argues that Pope Benedict XVI must go forward with his visit to Lebanon, despite the rising tensions in the Middle East, because the Pontiff’s trip is “a a great opportunity to show that peace is the only possible alternative to hatred and war.”

Father Rafic Greiche noted that the Middle East is “very tense” as Islamic leaders plan massive protests this weekend against the American-made film Innocence of Muslims. Pope Benedict will be traveling to Lebanon at the same time. But the Egyptian priest emphasized that the public protests are not against Christians, and in fact some Egyptian Christians have joined in demonstrations.

The protests are aimed against the US, Father Greiche said. He explained that people who live under authoritarian regimes “do not take freedom of expression into consideration, they think that everything is scrutinized by the public authorities." So American government leaders are held responsible for the offensive film.

Father Greiche added regretfully that although Muslim leaders are virulent in their condemnations of any offense against Islam, popular publications in Egypt routinely contain attacks on Christians, and “nobody talks about it or is scandalized by it.”


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