Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry expressed Sunday Egypt’s concern regarding the situation in the Middle East as well as the increase of discrimination against racial and religious minorities in Europe, including Muslims and Arabs, and the spread of hatred speech in both the political and media rhetoric.
During his speech before the second round of the ministerial conference for cultural and religious pluralism and peaceful coexistence in the Middle East, in Greece, Shoukry said the spread of hatred rhetoric in Europe gives the extremists free victory and fuels clashes and polarisation.
He also called for reaching an urgent and fair solution for the Palestinian issue and the suffering of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation, as failure in resolving this issue remains a main source for fueling disappointment and hatred.
“The talk about keeping the diversity in the region amid the suffering of terrorism is not a privilege but a necessity to keep the security and safety for people in the Middle East,” Shoukry said.
The minister stressed Egypt’s view that the solution for the challenges in the region is to preserve the cohesion of nation states (including those that face conflicts), to support these states take responsibility in preserving its nationals from violence and terrorism, and to open the space for raising the values of democracy and sovereignty.
He also pointed to the political, cultural, and economic challenges that face the communities that hosts big numbers of refugees. “It is the time for the international community to adopt a clear stance against terrorism which is the main enemy for peaceful coexistence in our societies,” Shoukry said.
Shoukry stressed the necessity of stopping the political, military, and logistic support of terrorists and the necessity that states should refrain providing in their land safe havens for terrorists.
“Egypt believes in the necessity of adopting a comprehensive treatment to confront terrorism, in accordance with the strategy of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi which he has announced during the US-Islamic summit in Saudi Arabia in May,” Shoukry said. He focused on Al-Sisi’s calls for modesty and renewing the religious rhetoric.
Egypt’s constitution ensures the freedom of practising religion and confronts discrimination, according to Shoukry. He added that Egypt took several practical steps in boosting coexistence and modesty, including launching the international forum for modesty and the efforts of Al-Azhar and the Coptic Church in this regard.
“Egypt’s choice is to remain a nation for diversity and pluralism and peaceful coexistence,” Shoukry said.
The two-day conference aims at discussing the humanitarian crises that the religious and cultural communities face in the Middle East, as a result of the disputes in the region during the last years, as well as means of protecting the rights and freedoms of these groups through a comprehensive dialogue between the concerned regional and international bodies to boost concepts of peaceful coexistence and the exchanged understanding between all groups in the region.
The conference is being attended by foreign ministers, politicians, clerics, and scholars, in order to exchange ideas, and views regarding the related topics, and it focuses in the role of religious leaders in the Middle East and the refugees crisis and the process of merging them in their host communities, in addition to the role of media and religious leaders in promoting cultural and religious pluralism in the region.
On the sidelines of the conference, Shoukry met with his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias, praising the Greek role in supporting the Egyptian candidate for the UNESCO. The two ministers discussed boosting bilateral relations especially in confronting terrorism and illegal immigration.
During the meeting, Shoukry informed his counterpart in Egypt’s view regarding the situation in Libya and Syria.