On October 2nd 2010, Dr. Ahmed El Mokadem was asked to be the after-dinner speaker to a group of distinguished guests of The Coptic Medical Society in the United Kingdom. Eight months later, on May 21st, 2011, he returned as a speaker once more where he delivered a paper titled, God’s Word, His Chosen Mary & The Coptic Community’s Strategic Mission in Egypt’s New Charter of Hope.
The below is a brief introduction to his speech, which we will publish in its entirety.
After completing an hour-long journey from her hometown of Sol in Helwan, Saniya Mustafa, a veiled Muslim, arrived in Cairo with blankets and food for her Coptic neighbours.
Her neighbours had been gathering in front of the Egyptian Radio and TV building to protest an attack on a church in Sol, located in the Atfih district in the Helwan governorate in Southern Cairo.
Saniya told Al-Shorfa that her Coptic neighbours are ‘all my people and I know of no others’. They ‘stood beside me when my husband died and the day my daughter married and graduated from the university’.
She said “the teaching of Islam instructs her as a Muslim to defend against extremism and oppression at the cost of her own life.”
Saber El- Shafei, a 32-year old Egyptian Muslim, said, “I came to support the demands of my friends and my brothers, the Copts, because no one has the right to burn a mosque or a church. They are all houses of God that call for tolerance and coexistence. We are living at a time when ignorance and extremism no longer have any place.”
The Coptic Medical Society, has asked [me] a ‘Muslim, Non-Medical, and relatively Old man’ to talk twice within a period of just over eight months, to a predominantly Coptic, Medical and Young audience about what the ‘Youth Revolution’ achieved and what the future holds, focusing on the role of the Coptic Community in the emerging “New Egypt”.
Thus, I will do my best to cover objectively and optimistically. But before I proceed to the heart of the subject matter, I wish to start, unusually, from the “Cover Image”. Observing a magnificent photo of our Blessed Virgin Mary you might wonder why I have chosen this.
Apart from her uniqueness, per se, beloved, blessed Virgin Mary: The Holy Spirit mother of our Saviour, Lord Jesus, born with no sins, lived with no sins and died with no sins. God’s chosen, purified woman of all nations, and apart from my loving obsession of her, and the photo shown taken by myself from the closest to my heart’s collection of her, blessed Mary has a specific historical relevance to the subject matter of this paper.
In 1967, Egypt suffered an unparalleled defeat, in history, which not only enabled Israel to occupy a major significant part of her land, but also shook the foundations of Egyptian’s confidence in themselves. Surprisingly whoever was predominantly responsible for such a defeat remains without accountability.
The 1967 defeat not only caused a deep ideological and identity crisis, but more importantly, stunned Copts as well as Muslims and led both to a return to religion.
In this extremely gloomy atmosphere, the apparition of the Virgin Mary, in Zeiton in 1968, appeared at a critical moment, which encouraged both Copts and Muslims, who took it as a sign that “God had not forsaken them”.
This view is elevated to the status of what Vivian Ibrahim called the “Coptic tool”, in her recent most inspiring book. This ‘tool’, and I quote, proved “useful in helping to forge a united Egyptian demonstration of grief following the spectacularly poignant defeat of 1967”. Then she proceeded to highlight the importance of the apparition of the Virgin Mary in the following year, which, as she added, “was heralded by Muslims and Copts alike as a demonstration of faith in the face of diversity.”
Now, not in the “face of any adversity”, but to the contrary, with the success of the miraculous 18 days “Youth Revolution”, one prays for another apparition soon. A sign that would confirm to the Egyptians that God will “heal them” and “will hear
their prayers” (Isaiah 19:22) and will bless them and say “I will bless you, Egypt my people”. (Isaiah 19:25).
In so doing, our beloved Mary will remind us that when we pray as an expression of gratitude, we should pray with faith:
“Whatever you ask for in prayer, with faith, you will receive”