CAIRO: Civil society organizations as well as a handful of intellectuals joined forces with the Ministry of Culture to launch “Cairo Meeting,” an event that aims at promoting cultural dialogue and cooperation.
The two-day event that took place last week at Cairo University, the Opera House and Salah Eddin Citadel under the slogan “ Beauty: Space for Dialogue,” included lectures by Egyptian and Italian intellectuals and musical performances by Inshad, a band that incorporates religious chanting from different faiths, and the Italian band Schuber trio.
Tahany El-Gebaly, the first Egyptian female judge and the president of “Cairo Meeting,” said that beauty was chosen as the theme of the event because it represents all the beautiful values and because it represents the fight against “ugliness” that comes with racism and religious discrimination.
El-Gebaly said that the core of the world’s problems is that states are only concerned with the official relations between them, leaving the unofficial relations between its people to be sabotaged by corruption.
She added that this event shows that Egypt never lost its cultural value.
“This event was organized by ordinary Egyptian citizens and put under the care of the Egyptian people, believing that Egypt’s cultural genius will always remain in the core of its people, it might fade sometimes but it will never die,” said El-Gebaly.
The event was inspired by “Rimini Meeting,” an annual Italian event that started in 1980 with the goal of creating points of contact between people of different faiths and cultures. The 31st Rimini Meeting was held last August with 2 million participants from around the world.
“We are here to know you and to learn from you and to know how you see the truth, there is no doubt that the desire for peace and unity is what brought us together and we have already started the road together,” said ?Emilia Guarnieri?, president of “Rimini Meeting” during the opening ceremony.
“Cairo Meeting” was organized by young volunteers from different universities across Egypt as well as the Catholic College in Milan.
Said Saber, a professor at Alexandria University, volunteered to participate in organizing this event along with 20 students that came with him from Alexandria.
Saber believes that the core values promoted by this event are volunteer work and open friendship.
“This event generates discussion among people from different cultures and it also creates interaction between Muslim and Christian youths which leads to friendship and compassion instead of animosity,” said Saber.
Martina Mucchi, an Italian who volunteered in organizing the event, thinks that it has helped convey a true picture of Egypt.
“Now I see a real picture of Egypt and I believe that we can live together and work together even though we’re different, and pave the way together,” said Mucchi.
Kamal Kabil, president of the Appeals Court in Tanta, said that every Egyptian should take pride in this event, as it conveys Egypt’s civilization.
“The event honors the conversation between nations and honors Egypt’s culture so that the world knows what the real Egypt is,” said Kabil.
Daniel Vuccen, the first ambassador of Croatia to Egypt from 1993 to 1998, said that this event will show the world the friendly and open-minded nature of Egyptians and Muslims which he has experienced during his stay in Egypt.
“This is an extremely important event, especially that it was organized by Muslims and Egyptians who invited people of other religions and cultures to engage in a sincere and open dialogue,” said Vuccen.
Hossam Mekawy, president of the South Cairo Court and executive officer of the event, said that the event has provided a forum for young Muslims and Christians to work together and it also enhanced Egypt’s public image.
“We have succeeded in presenting Egypt in its best picture to this large crowd of foreigners. Those young volunteers are marketing their country for free,” said Mekawy.
Former dean of Al-Azhar University Abdel Moety Bayoumi honored Father? Christian Van Nispen? as the Cairo Meeting Figure of the Year.
According to Bayoumi, Father Van Nispen has a lot of love for Egypt and has shown his openness and acceptance of the others on many occasions.
Bayoumi says that Father Van Nispen requested to pray Eid prayers with him and gave lectures in mosques.
“Father Christian represents coexistence between different cultures and religions and he is an example of accepting the other,” said Bayoumi.
The organizers of the event are hoping to receive enough support from the state to be able to start an organization and to make “Cairo Meeting” an annual event.
Tahany El-Gebaly, president of “Cairo Meeting.”