03/02/2012 5:25 pm
A special installment of Middle East Analysis today with not one but two studio guests. The first needs no introduction to regular listeners - it's our analyst Dr Harry Hagopian, the Bishops' Consultant on the MENA region. Our second guest is the Bishop of Clifton, the Rt Rev Declan Lang, Chair of the Bishops' Conference Department of International Affairs.
In this podcast we start by looking at the violent scenes in Port Said, Egypt. Earlier this week, immediately after a football match between Cairo's al-Ahly and the home side, al-Masry, 74 people lost their lives after rioting inside the stadium. Dr Hagopian analyses the tragedy and puts it in context with the current power struggle in the country:
"The two main contenders for power in the future in Egypt are the Military Council and Parliament. This is a power play between the two of them. Hopefully we won't see too many of those painful episodes in the future as the whole of Egypt suffers - and let's not forget that ten percent of Egypt is Christian. However, it is an inevitable consequence of revolution after decades of slumber and oppression."
In the context of the riots and uprisings, we look at the realities faced by the indigenous Christians of the MENA region. Bishop Declan Lang joins Dr Harry Hagopian to provide a pastoral insight - highlighting the universality of our faith in a multi-plural region.
On the importance of showing solidarity with the Christian communities, Bishop Declan says:
"These communities are going through periods of instability and therefore periods of fear - they're fearful for their lives, fearful for their families.
"When you're afraid, you can feel very alone. So in one sense, solidarity is about friendship and standing with people - trying to understand the situation they're facing, trying to experience their fear. Through our friendship with them, we share in their fear and we share in their hopes and expectations. We are standing with them."
"As we become more aware of the needs of our brothers and sisters in different parts of the world, coming from different cultures, it broadens our horizons and deepens our understanding of what it is to be a human being."
The full podcast can be downloaded/played at the top right-hand corner of this page.
Duration: 19m 56s
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Dr Harry Hagopian