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Religious Leaders in Egypt Foster Christian-Muslim Relationships

Since the Arab spring swept through the Middle Eastern region, Christian minorities have been worried over persecution and marginalization within the Muslim-dominated countries and governments. Now, a recent initiative is aiming to draw both Christians and Muslims together in order to build lasting relationships based on mutual understanding.

Bringing Muslims and Christians together is only the first part of a new endeavor put forth by the local Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt- it's aimed at forming new relationships across religions after decades of authoritarian rule.

In the wake of shifting power and governments, both Muslims and Christians are coming together to provide social assistance, education and promises of protecting one another in the face uncertainty and suspicion.

"Our church is open to all those who need it," Youssef Aboul El Kher, a Coptic Catholic Bishop of Sohag, told a crowd during a recent gathering, according to CNS.

"We have many ministries for social good, such as women's health and combating illiteracy. We are in the service of everyone," he added.

Aboul El Kher was not the only religious leader to offer assistance or comfort to wary Coptics and Muslims. Yusuf Sherif, the local representative for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood party, told the same gathering that Muslims would stand by their Christian brothers and sisters.

"When you are threatened, we are threatened … When a Christian girl is harassed by a Muslim, we defend the girl," Sherif said.

The relationships and bonds that are forming provide a communal approach to administer desperately needed programs related to the social, educational and economical well-being of not just religious groups, but for all people.

"We have always had maternity health centers, preschools and illiteracy eradication campaigns and classes," Father Romany Adly, who participated in the event, held at St. George Coptic Catholic Church.

"These are opportunities for the Muslim and Christian communities to mix and interact," he said, adding that the Coptic Catholic medical clinic in his village has served mostly Muslim families for more than 26 years, according to CNS.

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