Forum for Intercultural Dialogue in Egypt
HANDS supports the Forum for Intercultural Dialogue (FID), a large conflict resolution program in Egypt, which was started in 1992 by CEOSS, one of the largest service organizations in Egypt, This program is a result of recognizing that promoting democracy, pluralism, tolerance and analytical, scientific thinking must accompany economic development, in order to bring real advancement to Egyptian society.
Started as an effort to stop the violence between Muslim and Christian groups in Egypt during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, this program brings together leaders of Egyptian communities and groups, including senior Christian and Muslim religious leaders, academicians, civil society activists, media experts, and other professionals, who engage in meaningful discussions on issues related to the welfare of the Egyptian people.
Strengthening civil society in Egypt is one of the main goals of the FID. Participants include leaders from Al-Azhar University, the Ministry of Islamic Endowment, Al-Ahram newspaper, and the various Egyptian churches, including Coptic Orthodox and Coptic Catholic churches.
Two years ago CEOSS expanded the focus of the Forum to include intercivilizational dialogue, with the goal of promoting greater intercultural understanding between the Arab world and the West. This dialogue includes exchange and dialogue with Arab countries in the Middle East (Lebanon and Jordan), Germany, Denmark, Italy, the US and a number of African countries.
This program has recently demonstrated the power of dialogue in preventing and mitigating conflict. When sectarian violence between Muslim and Christian groups arose in Alexandria, Egypt in 2005, the alumni of FID, prominent community and religious leaders, joined forces and played an important role in calming the violence and calling for tolerance within their congregations and communities. This dialogue reinforces our notion that supporting efforts that bring people together to discuss their differences and similarities is a powerful tool for building more peaceful and prosperous societies.