Christian-Muslim Relations in Egypt: Politics, Society and Interfaith Encounters
The subject of Christian-Muslim relations in the Middle East and indeed in the West attracts much academic and media attention. Henrik Lindberg Hansen analyzes this relationship in Egypt, offering an examination of the nature and role of religious dialogue in Egyptian society and politics. Analysing the three main religious organizations and institutions in Egypt (namely the Azhar University, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Coptic Orthodox Church) as well as a range of smaller dialogue initiatives (such as those of CEOSS, the Anglican and Catholic Churches and youth organisations), Hansen argues that religious dialogue involves a close examination of societal relations, and how these are understood and approached.
Prof. Mark Sedgwick, Arab and Islamic Studies, Aarhus University:
Christian-Muslim Relations in Egypt is essential reading for all those interested in today’s Egypt. The book is an important contribution to our understanding of the dynamics of Egyptian society and politics, as well as being a major addition to our knowledge of Christian-Muslim relations. Henrik Lindberg Hansen adds penetrating analysis to the authority of long experience. The book ends with an especially valuable chapter on the controversial events of 2011 and 2013, on their impact at the time, and on their possible future implications.
Dr. Kate Zebiri, Senior Lecturer in Arabic, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London:
This study is a timely contribution to a hitherto neglected area, and highlights the vital importance of religion in Egyptian society and politics. Based on many years of experience on the ground, it greatly enhances our understanding of the dynamics of interfaith relations in Egypt. It sheds light on the different types of religious discrimination which occur, while also providing an innovative typology of the various dialogue initiatives in contemporary Egypt. Using the tools of sociology and social psychology, this book will be of interest to scholars, students and those working in the field of interfaith dialogue.
Prof. David Thomas, School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham:
The networks that operate in Egyptian society are involved and hard to discern, yet they are essential to maintaining relations between both individuals and groups. In this study, Henrik Lindberg Hansen, who has spent many years living in Egypt, shows how dialogue between Christians and Muslims operates through these networks and profits from the links they provide. His study gives a rare insight into unseen aspects of dialogue in Egypt, and makes an unusual and distinctive contribution to research in the field of Christian-Muslim dialogue. This book will give both newcomers and established researchers in the field fresh understandings of the practicalities of dialogue and the intricate relations between Egyptian society and religion.
Christian-Muslim Relations in Egypt closely examines the context of the society in which the dialogue between representatives of these two religions takes place, and how these social groups position themselves and the individuals within them. Focusing on what it means to have interfaith discourse in the Middle East, and how this feeds into the navigation and negotiation of social identities, the book offers analysis of the different types of inter-religious dialogue that have occurred. Arguing that these dialogues form an essential part of Egypt’s social structure, Hansen also examines how the construction of identity and emotional patterns fits into this. He therefore looks at instances of successful dialogue, as well as occasions where resentment or discrimination threaten attempts to create closer ties between Egypt’s Christians and Muslims.
The book includes analysis of the occasions of violence against and dialogue initiatives involving Christian communities in 2011 and the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013, and thus provides a wide-ranging exploration of the importance of religion in Egyptian society and everyday encounters with a religious other. The book is consequently vital for practitioners as well as researchers dealing with religious minorities in the Middle East and interfaith dialogue in a wider context.
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