Cairo, Egypt, Apr 29, 2017 / 12:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As Pope Francis returns from his April 28-29 trip to Cairo, Egyptians of all faiths were pleased by his visit and his message — one that filled them with hope for the future, they said.
Muslim woman Samia Zien Elbeden, whose husband was killed just six months ago, told EWTN April 29 that after the tragic loss of her husband, the Pope’s visit “brings me peace and gives me hope.”
“I am a woman whose husband has been taken away, I am alone. We had no children,” Elbeden said. “My husband was everything. He had a high position in the Egyptian army, one of only 12 at that level.” She said she “was happy with what the Pope said” the day before when he gave a speech at the prestigious al-Azhar University for the International Conference on Peace. He also spoke to Egyptian authorities later on the same day.
Jesuit Fr. Morat, who lives in Cairo but is originally from Syria, also said he was pleased by the Pope’s words the first day of his trip. “It was a great message of peace, for our hearts first,” he noted. “The Egyptian people seem happy with it, too. We need hope, we believe in this hope, brought by Pope Francis.”
Fr. Morat also said he hopes the Pope’s visit “will bring peace to this country.” “Pope Francis is a man of peace and his manner of talking and acting shows that he feels what’s happening in the Middle East will bring something new, a new spirit, I hope for this.”
A Muslim political consultant to the majority party in the Egyptian parliament, Marouan Younis, said that everyone is very happy to have Pope Francis in Cairo and hope that his presence will boost their own efforts to combat terrorism and promote peace in the country.
“We are sending a message of peace around the world, and now he is joining us in this message.” We are trying build a new country and spread the message to the world that we are in a new era, he explained. “We are really fighting terrorism, a clear fight. We have many problems in our region but we think, we hope, and we pray that we succeed in building a new country.” The country wants to build a relationship with anyone who wants to be their friend, he said. “The Pope’s speeches have been fantastic, very clear. He’s been very friendly, just brings hope and love to everybody.”
“In Egypt, we’re really fighting ISIS hard,” he continued. “It’s very tough and we’re having many problems in this fight because it’s a battle fought with arms, ideas, religion. It’s a heavy fight, because ISIS knows that if Egypt falls, the whole region will fall.” He highlighted that although a Muslim himself, he has dear friends who are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox, and they are all happy with the Vatican and Pope Francis. “The only ones unhappy are ISIS and the fanatics,” he said.
Speaking about Cairo’s Air Defense Stadium where Pope Francis celebrate Mass Saturday morning, he said, “Here in the stadium there are Muslims, Protestants, everybody.” “Yesterday in the prayer meeting we found the three big religious leaders were sitting on the same stage, just praying along with the Vatican, the Pope. I’m very happy with what’s going on.”
Amani, an Egyptian TV presenter, said she thinks it’s a “very critical time” for Egypt, “so it’s especially important that Pope Francis has come here.” She applauded seeing all Egyptians, including both Christians and Muslims, joining together for his visit. Amani also said that “we have to specify what terrorism is,” saying that she believes it’s in all religions, not only in Islam.
“This is what the head of al-Azhar said yesterday,” she said, referring to the speech made by Grand Imam of the Mosque of al Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayyib, who spoke alongside Pope Francis at the conference on peace. It’s time, around the world, to draw the line on what is good and non-violent as part of a religion and what is not, she said. “Now we’re going to divide again between good and bad.”
“[The problem] is these people and the money behind them who take bits out of the Koran, the same thing in other religions. Most people all over the world have gone far from their main religion and believe what other people say about them,” she continued. “The main aspect of this visit is that we have now to decide, if we need and want this religion, to look into the past, and study the real religion, not what people say about it.”