Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir’

Jesuit Middle East Expert Believes Arab Spring is ‘no more’

Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, SJ, speaking at Birmingham Oratory for Aids to the Church in Need's (ACN) Light of the World event in June 2010. Credit: ACN

One of the Catholic Church’s leading experts on the Middle East says the Arab Spring is “no more.”

“It was in the beginning a ‘springtime’ because really it was a free movement, (an) independent, unorganized movement for freedom,” Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir told EWTN News.

But the movement slowly became “organized by other groups, especially by Islamic groups, in Egypt, also in Libya, in Bahrain, so that now the situation is no more a spring,” he said.

Fr. Samir is an Egyptian Jesuit who teaches at Rome’s Pontifical Oriental Institute, as well as in Beirut and Paris. Last year he cautiously welcomed the rise of the “Arab Spring,” a series of popular uprisings that dislodged several Middle Eastern dictators.

While some observers were hopeful that more democratic forms of government would take root in the wake of the protests, many countries instead saw Islamist movements rise to political prominence.

Fr. Samir said this has been particularly true in his homeland of Egypt, where the 30-year military dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak was toppled last year, and in other states such as Tunisia and Libya.

Fr. Samir said he still prays for “an open society for all people” in the Arab world but believes there are two road blocks – a lack of experience with democracy and a lack of education particularly for Arab women.

“We are aspiring to democracy but a problem is, if I take the case of Egypt for instance, which is not an exception, since 1952 and the Abdel Nasser revolution we don’t have a democracy,” he explained. Instead Egypt experienced having militant leaders – Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak – “so we don’t know what a democracy is and how to make it.”

He believes that democracy could develop in the region but that it may take another generation to achieve it.

The Egyptian Jesuit also thinks that education, especially for women, is a key factor in achieving a stable democratic society. He explained that it is Arab women who “build the family, not the fathers” and that females are also “those who are more for peace and not for war” which, he believes, gives them a greater affinity with minorities such as Christians.

Read more at EWTN News.

Ignatius Press Adds E-Books to Collection

Ignatius Press recently announced the release of more than thirty books from their collection into e-reader format. Many older Ignatius Press books are also incrementally being made available in the e-book format. These additions bring their collection of electronic books to over 300 titles available for purchase. The file formats available are .prc format for Kindle and .epub format for Nook and iPad.

A few of the additions include:

The Treasury of Catholic Wisdom, edited by Jesuit Father John Hardon. A Catholic library in miniature, a one-volume microcosm of what the Church’s great minds have thought and said since the apostolic age.

YOUCAT: Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church. An accessible, contemporary expression of the Catholic Faith, with a foreword by Pope Benedict XVI.

Idylls and Rambles by Jesuit Father James V. Schall. Fr. Schall writes profoundly and charmingly about people, places and things, giving a Christian perspective to the importance of little things and particular moments.

111 Questions on Islam by Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir is the result of a series of interviews with the internationally acclaimed expert on Islam who has dedicated many years to studying key themes of Islam and analyzing the possibility of coexistence between people of different faiths and cultures.

Jesuit Talks to Vatican Radio on Roots of Egyptian Revolt

Jesuit Father Samir Khalil SamirEgyptian Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir, a professor at Rome’s Pontifical Oriental Institute and an Islamic scholar, recently spoke to Vatican Radio about the current waves of protests that are sweeping Arab nations in North Africa and beyond.

“What we need first of all is justice, equality, social reform because the gap between rich and poor is far too wide, and this is the real cause of the Islamic fundamentalist movement,” he said.

“We need change, the Arab world must change. We need alternate parties but in our countries there is nothing.” When asked if the Western concept of democracy is applicable to Egypt and the wider Arab world, Fr. Samir said it is “applicable but not yet practicable.”

“If you have authoritarian regimes, they systematically destroy all the leadership so only people who are in agreement with the current system are in power.” In the case of Egypt, he said, “Mubarack nominated his second in command, Omar Suleiman who is a good diplomat, a military officer. But … is this good for the country?”

Listen to the interview with Fr. Samir on Vatican Radio.