Viewing cable 05CAIRO2722
Title: EGYPTIAN REACTION TO DEATH OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05CAIRO27222005-04-07 13:40:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Cairo
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS CAIRO 002722 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SOCI KIRF PGOV PREL EG VC
SUBJECT: EGYPTIAN REACTION TO DEATH OF POPE JOHN PAUL II 
 
 
Sensitive but unclassified.  Please protect accordingly. 
 
¶1.  (SBU)  Summary:  The GOE, Egyptian religious leaders, and 
the Egyptian media have joined the worldwide outpouring of 
condolences and respect on the occasion of the death of Pope 
John Paul II.  Although the Roman Catholic population of 
Egypt is relatively small (about 350,000 from a total 
Egyptian Christian population of nearly 8 million), the 
Egyptian response is an indication of the late Pope's stature 
in Egypt (especially on the issue of the Arab/Palestinian 
"cause") as well as the GOE's desire to signal its engagement 
on this issue.  End summary. 
 
¶2.  (U)  The Presidency announced that Minister of Culture 
Farouk Hosny will lead the official GOE delegation to the 
funeral on Friday.  The GOE also announced a three day 
mourning period and issued a statement noting that President 
Mubarak mourned the loss of the Pope who had "served as a 
symbol of love and peace, a preacher of dialogue among 
religions and civilizations, and a supporter of the values of 
righteousness and justice, including Arab and Palestinian 
causes."  Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa also plans 
to attend the funeral. 
 
¶3.  (U)  Egyptian religious leaders have also expressed their 
respects.  Sheikh of Al-Azhar Sayyed Tantawi described the 
Pope's passing as a loss for the Church and the Islamic 
world.  Tantawi's words echoed Mubarak's as he lauded John 
Paul II's support for righteousness and peace and expressed 
appreciation for the Pope's support for Arab causes in 
Palestine and Iraq.  Minister of Religious Endowments (Awqaf) 
Hamdy Zaqzug called on the Pope's successor to follow in John 
Paul II's footsteps and continue his contributions to peace. 
Finally, Dar al-Ifta'a, the official body responsible for the 
issuance of Islamic legal opinions, issued a statement 
recognizing the Pope's efforts for peace and justice and his 
support of Arab causes, "especially the Palestinian cause." 
 
¶4.  (SBU)  His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, spiritual leader 
to Egypt's seven million strong Coptic Orthodox community, 
praised John Paul II's "noble attributes" and his "great 
contribution to ecumenical work."  Comment:  Shenouda, who is 
in his early eighties, appears to be in good health for a man 
of his age, but the passing of John Paul II is a reminder 
that the Coptic Orthodox Church will likely face its own 
succession process in a relatively short time.  End comment. 
 
¶5.  (U)  On April 5, the Charge, along with numerous other 
members of the diplomatic corps and Egyptian governmental and 
non-governmental luminaries, visited the Papal Nuncio to sign 
the condolence book. 
 
¶6.  (SBU)  The Egyptian media devoted extensive, factual 
coverage to the story of the Pope's death.  Editorial 
coverage for the most part was laudatory and 
non-controversial, though a writer in opposition newspaper 
Al-Wafd sounded a discordant note when he asserted that John 
Paul II's "wooing" of Jews and Israel was unsuccessful due to 
the late Pope's "support for Arab causes." 
 
 
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http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/cairo 
 
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State Department's Classified SIPRNET website. 
 
GRAY