“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.
To mark the start of Lent 2012, there is a departure from the usual style of my podcast regional analysis of the Middle East and North Africa for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW).