Something happened in Cairo October 2010: a cultural event inspired by The Meeting in Rimini, as may be seen in the photo slideshow above. Davide Perillo describes the course of events in the #10 issue of Traces. Here's a snippet, but go read the whole account: "You Have Brightened Egypt"
The clear impression is that it is as if the very idea of 'dialogue between religions' has been swept away, leaving room for reality: people who are in dialogue precisely because they are religious–that is to say, zealous for the heart, for the question of meaning, for beauty. One distinguished man, unidentified, during a pause, began a discussion with Emilia Guarnieri: (the English is rather improbable, but the point gets through), 'You spoke of certainties and the fight against relativism; can you explain better?.' She explains, and he nods, and replies, saying something like: 'I understand. Whatever is an obstacle to man’s imagination is to be fought.' In his own way, he sounds like Fr. Giussani when he speaks of 'the category of possibility,' which keeps reason open to the Mystery. Another point made by an Egyptian friend and highlighted was: 'We are looking at things with your eyes.'
The final concert was an apotheosis of what we have in common and of what distinguishes us. The Schubert Trio and classical music inside the walls of Saladin’s Citadel: all eager to hear beauty (Brahms, Paganini, and Dvorak), many ready to acknowledge that it is only a relation of the other music, played by the Sama’a group the previous evening: Eastern chorales and polyphony entwined with 'our' melodies. They, too, are beautiful, but different, without that note of melancholy that echoes, so to speak, in the 2nd movement of Schubert’s Trio, presented as 'one of the pieces that Fr. Giussani loved most.' At this point, we realize how often that name has been quoted continually over these days, on the stage and off it, in both Italian and Arabic speeches, and how alive Fr. Giussani still is, present more than ever.
The editorial in the same issue of Traces notes the remarkable contours of this event:
"For two days, there were assemblies and exhibitions, a demonstration of earthly beauty as the basis for a dialogue, in an Islamic country. It was organized by Muslims, people who live their tradition deeply, but who were struck by a friendship with those who live Christianity deeply, making it flesh and blood–that is, culture."
Although I haven't seen The Meeting in Cairo or The Meeting in Rimini, I will have the opportunity to see the American edition of The Meeting: The New York Encounter. It's happening January 14-17. The presentations are free and open to the public — I hope to see you there!
It is in this difficult context that thirty young men and women, Muslims and Christians (Catholics and Orthodox), are meeting and working together to clear away this evil and create a space of love and friendship, working together to prepare to host the Meeting of Rimini and the values it represents.
The Meeting is growing and expanding every day, attracting much attention and curiosity, as well as the support of al-Azhar, Anba Musa (Secretary of the Coptic Pope), Anba Boutros Fahim (the Vice Catholic Patriarch), the University of Cairo, the Ministry of Culture and fifty Egyptian public figures and ambassadors from a number of Arab countries.
The meeting in Cairo really started with the smile of love on the faces of these young people, who believe in their ability to open up to others, because they believe in their diversity and love it. I remember saying at the presentation of the Arabic language version of The Religious Sense of Don Giussani, at the Rimini Meeting of 2006, that the sincere friendship between two people is enough to change the world. Was I dreaming?