In the midst of significant, but not necessarily tectonic, changes across the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, what has happened to Palestine, a virtual state clothed with a real idea, which had been at the forefront of the political imagination of the Arab masses for long decades? Dr Harry Hagopian examines long standing questions and recent developments with an eye to addressing 'the elephant in the room' of MENA politics.
A recent London discussion of Christian-Muslim relations illustrated in an enlivening way the need for developing conversation and exchange to take place at a number of levels, says Dr Harry Hagopian. Intellectuals and theologians can set the tone on key issues, but Christians and Muslims alike have a responsibility in communal, political and inter-prersonal engagements to deal truthfully, to confront prejudices, to speak out against faith-based discrimination and to tackle the roots of extremism wherever they are found.
“Egypt isn't a country we live in, but a country that lives within us” is a renowned saying from the late Pope Shenouda III. Following his death and questions about succession to his role, says Dr Harry Hagopian, the question now is whether Egypt will continue living within the Copts, and more pertinently how. This involves complex political, cultural, social and religious issues.
The region Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region - Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Morocco, Yemen and many others - is a tinderbox ready to be set ablaze, says Dr Harry Hagopian. So can the collective wisdom of the international community overcome its short-term stratagems and leap forward with political determination? Or will the haunting predictions of a well-placed Syrian activist from Homs who wryly suggested that we are in for a decade of sporadic and prolonged civil wars indeed come true? The stakes are high in Syria and beyond.
It is almost a truism to note that if the mainstream media is our only source of news regarding anything to do with religion (however that might be conceived) in the Middle East, or even the Middle East in general, we are in deep trouble, says Dr Michael Marten. Here he analyses some of the major misunderstandings, urging the BBC and others to 'up their game' and to have the courage to address difficult and contentious issues appropriately.
Pope Shenouda III, the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt, the single largest church in the Middle East, died on Saturday 17 March 2012 aged 89. Ekklesia associate Michael Marten, from the University of Stirling, locates and evaluates his significance.