Unification News for April 2002

Australian Peace Ambassador takes initiative in Egypt

by Greg Stone

About 2,000 people in Cairo and 500 people in Suez City gathered for four-hour IIFWP afternoon seminars on February 6, 2002. These were the first IIFWP seminars ever held in Egypt. They took place through the personal initiative of IIFWP Peace Ambassador, Dr. Samir F. Hanna (Australian Peace Ambassador) who was visiting family in Egypt.

Inspired by the vision of IIFWP that he had experienced in Conferences he had attended in Australia and Washington DC, Dr. Hanna seized the opportunities that arose during his visit to Egypt. Due to the interreligious tensions, especially between the Muslim and Christian communities there, Dr. Hanna found that there was great interest in the work of IIFWP. On his own initiative and at his own expense he conducted two seminars to overflow, standing-room-only crowds.

Most of the attendees were from local Coptic Orthodox communities and the seminars focused on the following issues: How to harmonize with people of other faiths; youth issues including the dangers of drugs and alcohol, dealing with youth conflicts and anger, the importance of sexual purity; the role of the media in interreligious conflict and the significance of the family.

Another issue of particular local concern was the high level of unemployment amongst new graduates. Advice was given about possible projects where graduates could form a "Graduates Club" and take their own initiative in creating employment and business opportunities.

In Cairo, eight priests came to the event, and in Suez city two more were in attendance. A video recording was taken of each event. A beautiful youth choir sang in Cairo, and at the end of each seminar there was question and answer time for nearly an hour. Dr. Hanna was presented with a gift in appreciation for his efforts for peace, and at each event he handed out over one hundred IIFWP business cards. The response was overwhelming.

Overall, the very high level of attendance and interest in the seminars, indicated that there is certainly a great need for the ongoing work of IIFWP in Egypt.

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