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Religion and Society

The Oasis Committee: a Debate with Many Voices on Democracies and Fundamental Rights

Cairo 19~20 June 2006

The Oasis Centre, wanting to develop relations initiated last year, held the annual meeting of its scientific committee in Cairo. The proceedings took place on 19-20 June at the International Institute of Religious Sciences in Sakakini and involved 64 participants from 16 countries. The following, amongst others, took part: H. Em. Cardinal Scola, the Patriarch of Venice; H. Em. Cardinal Turkson, the Archbishop of Cape Coast; H.B. Neguib, the Patriarch of Alexandria; bishops of Cairo of various rites; and the Apostolic Nuncio in Egypt, Msgr. Fitzgerald.


On the first day six speakers addressed the subject of 'fundamental rights and democracies' from various perspectives. After a paper by H.B. Antonios Neguib, the Patriarch of Alexandria, the following gave papers: Prof. Muhammad Nur Farahat, lecturer in the philosophy of law at the University of Zagagig; H. Em. Cardinal Scola; H.E. Msgr. Hanna Golta, Auxiliary Bishop of Cairo for the Catholic Copts; Prof. Sayf ad-Din 'Abdel Fattah, lecturer in political science at the University of Cairo; and Rev. Christian Van Nispen, a Jesuit resident in Egypt for over forty years. The morning ended with a paper by Rav


Israel Singer, President of the Policy Council of the World Jewish Congress.


The discussion on the subject of fundamental rights continued in the afternoon and emphasised the indissoluble relationship between rights and duties and the importance of a pre-political reference in their definition. In the evening all the guests were received at the official residence of the Nuncio.


Next morning the whole of the scientific committee of Oasis was received by the Rector of the University of al-Azhar, a leading institution for the Sunnite Muslim world, Prof. Ahmad et-Tayyeb, and by a large group of lecturers. From the debate (organised by the rector in the form of wide ranging questions and answers) certain interesting points emerged which were further discussed during the afternoon.


The scientific committee was fundamental in expanding and strengthening its network of relationships and helped various proposals on action and research to emerge.