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Arab West Report. Working towards peace and reconciliation between Muslims and Christians. Context of our Peace Building Work: - Increasing number of media reports about tensions between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.

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arab west report

Arab West Report

Working towards peace and reconciliation between Muslims and Christians


Context of our Peace Building Work:

- Increasing number of media reports about tensions between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.

-Some large attacks receive international attention, such as the one on Christians leaving church in NajcHammādī (Jan 2010).

- Some events have a local impact but do not reach a foreign audience, such as cIzbatBushrá (June 2009).

Coptic Christians protesting against the shootings in NajcHammādī.


Christians Killed as they Walked out of Church on Coptic Christmas Eve, January 6, 2010

A damaged home in the village of Bahjora, near Luxor. Riots and clashes followed the attack in NajcHammādī.

Men in southern Egypt trying to calm angry Christians after the deadly drive-by the night before.


Facts and Questions about NajcHammādī:

  • Facts:
  • High number of vendetta killings in Upper Egypt.
  • Christians often ally themselves with powerful Muslim tribes.
  • Great value attached to the honor of family and tribe.
  • Prior to NajcHammādī an alleged sexual relationship between a Christian man (25) and a Muslim girl (12) in the nearby village of Farshut led to looting and burning of property.

Copts rioting and looting in NajcHammādī after the shootings. The government sent in police to quell the situation.


Facts and Questions about NajcHammādī continued:

  • If revenge had taken a traditional pattern it would have been limited to the family members of the Christian man accused of rape.
  • Radical anti-Christian sentiments exist amongst some Muslims, who claim that this is based on Islamic teaching.
  • Many Muslims in Upper Egypt want peace.
  • Religion can easily be used to rile up emotions in times of conflict.

Much Media Reporting is Biased:

Authorities, government, Islamic leaders, and the church always seem to be surprised when new tensions arise. There is no official system in place to address these problems when they occur.

Copts protesting in Downtown Cairo about NajcHammādī

  • Current reconciliation meetings are criticized.
  • Sensationalism, highlighting tensions- aggravating the situation.

Tensions MUST be addressed and we do this in various ways:

    • - AWR Provides quick context to conflicts:
    • - Accurate and context-based investigative reporting
    • - Electronic library that immediately links reporting about conflicts to background geographical, historical, and cultural articles
    • - ZIVIC peace building project: Seeks methods to reconcile conflicting parties. This is a logical outcome of years of database building and investigative reporting.

AWR interns meeting with Christian villagers of cIzbatBushrá.


AWR team meeting with prominent Islamic thinker Jamāl al-Bannā and Dutch author on Islam, EildertMulder


Gradual Development of AWR:

    • 1997 – 1998: Systematic following and review of Arab media
    • 1998 – 2004: Reviewing Arab media with additional investigative reporting
    • 2004 – present: Building an electronic library with limited means
    • 2006 – present: Student interns aid in investigation and analysis
    • 2007 – 2008: Creation of Electronic Network for Arab West Understanding
    • 2009 - present: Application of knowledge and experiences in ZIVIC peacemaking project:
    • July - August: Investigating cIzbatBushrá
    • September - present: Interviews with leading Egyptian figures representing
  • Religious institutions
  • Civil Society leaders
  • NGO leaders
  • Media representatives

December 2009: Conducting Workshops:

  • Journalism workshop- Training in objective and balanced reporting.
  • NGO Workshop- promotion of cooperation in assuaging local conflict.

Journalism workshop.

  • January: NajcHammādī Christmas Eve attacks (January 2010)
    • Systematic media review to collate data
    • Five interviews to determine facts, avenues for peacemaking
    • Reflection reports written by AWR staff and interns
  • January – February: Summary report writing

Activities and Partners:

  • 1) Training Sessions:
  • Writing skills programme to help Egyptian students.
      • Journalism workshop to train in objective and balanced reporting
  • NGO workshop to facilitate area cooperation, conflict management

NGO workshop.

  • 2) Research and Report Writing:-
      • Investigative reporting following conflict
      • Media analysis
      • Interviews
      • Personal analysis, editorial, and reflection on the news

The Arab Thought Forum

  • 3) Partners:
  • Arab Thought Forum (Jordan)
  • Center for Studies and Educational, Legal, and Social Documentation, CEDEJ (Egypt)
  • Center for Documentation and Research on Christian Arabs (Lebanon)
  • Center for Strategic Studies on the Middle East (Lebanon)
  • Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at VSVSMV (Prague)
  • Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute (Egypt)
  • Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, Radboud University (Holland)
  • Program for Civilization Studies and Dialogue of Cultures, Cairo University (Egypt)
  • 4) Networking: an open and continual desire for conversation with those of like mind

Program for Civilization Studies and Dialogue of Cultures

The Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute


Main Findings of the ZIVIC Peace Building Project:

  • Media distortions and sensationalism increase societal tensions
  • Current efforts at ‘reconciliation’ do not decrease tensions but rather tend to increase them
  • Major institutions of society seem to be caught unaware by tensions, and without prior preparation lack a plan for handling it
  • Integration of society in all its diverse aspects is the best remedy for social tensions
  • Regions torn by tension often need outside encouragement to promote social reconciliation and reintegration of society

1) Interns checking the newspapers.

2) The fence at Abū Fānā separating them from their Arab neighbours.


Our main successes:

  • Compilation of an extensive media and reporting database
  • Site visits to explore root causes and provide context for local tensions
  • Hosting workshops to train journalists and promote cooperation among NGO leaders, harnessing the resources of all to promote social peace
  • Conducting interviews with prominent personalities with an eye toward encouraging active peacemaking
  • The AWR online database
  • AWR meeting with Pope Shenouda III

What Still Needs to be Done?

  • Integrate the search functions of the database for easy access to background information
  • Develop a network of area peace builders
  • Conduct site visits to stimulate dialogue in areas of conflict

Visit with Prof. HaraldSuermann of Missio and Bonn University, Germany, April 2009.


What Help Do We Need?

  • Volunteers/Interns to conduct research, help with office tasks.
  • Examples of successful peacemaking efforts from around the world.
  • Local Egyptian assistance to fully authorise our activities.
  • Financial support to fund our projects.
  • Technical assistance to make our database meet international library standards.
  • Linking our electronic library to as many institutions worldwide as possible.

Our Interns at AWR.

Head of CIDT and chair of CAWU Eng. SawsanGabrawith ZIVIC international coordinator Jayson Casper