My brother friar, Michael Calabria, OFM, who teaches Arabic in the Department of Modern Languages at St. Bonaventure University was the subject of an article published today by John Feister of AmericanCatholic.org. Michael has had a special connection with Egypt for near thirty years, the better part of the last decade of which he has been directing the ESL program at the Coptic Catholic Seminary in Cairo during the summers.
The article presents some observations and commentary offered by Michael that provide something of an “insider’s view” into the current political and social situation.
“The significance of what happened is tremendous,” says Friar Michael Calabria, O.F.M., speaking of the protests in Tahrir Square that led to the resignation at Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
“This shows, not only the Arab world, but also the rest of the world that people can remove a corrupt and tyrannical government through peaceful revolution.” The way things are today, says Calabria, “that’s no small thing.”
The article goes on, describing Michael’s first-hand experience of contemporary Egypt and the political regime of the now very recently deposed Hosni Mubarak. Speaking of Mubarak, Michael explained to Feister:
“Mubarak felt he had to squash any opposition to his government in order to maintain stability,” observes Fr. Calabria.
The corruption was so complete, Calabria reminds us from news reports, that Mubarak’s family is worth between 40 and 70 billion dollars, “in a country where you have 40 percent of the population living near the poverty line or below it. People were desperate.”
Additionally, we get a special glimpse into the Franciscan role in the events of recent weeks. According to Feister’s article, “Franciscans support events like the recent Tahrir Square protest, says Calabria, in which Christians and Muslims ‘joined in peaceful demonstration, holding crosses and Q’urans together, in a sign of Egyptian unity.'”
May we continue to join the people of Egypt in a spirit of solidarity as we pray for peace and a peaceful transition of power in Egypt.