Egyptian President Al-Sisi: We Enabled Building of Churches, Synagogues in Egypt; All People Have the Right to Worship or Not Worship; Syria Should Not Expect Developed Countries to Pay for Its Restoration
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi said that following the Unified Building Law, the Egyptian state has taken upon itself to build non-Muslim places of worship, including churches. Speaking at the World Youth Forum held in Sharm El-Sheikh, the Egyptian president said: "Every citizen has the right to worship as he pleases… [and] the right not to worship at all." Al-Sisi also spoke about costs associates with the restoration of Syria, saying that the Syrian government should not expect anybody to give them $300 billion to fix their country. He said: "Wasn't it you who broke it? Wasn't it you who destroyed it?" The World Youth Forum was held on November 3-6, 2018, and Al-Sisi's remarks aired on the Egyptian Channel 1 TV on November 4.
Following are excerpts:
President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi: For 150 years, we had laws that regulated the building [of places of worship]. It prevented the building of churches in Egypt. This law was in effect for 150 years. We enacted the Unified Building Law, in order to bring about stability and to put an end to the previous state of affairs. Prior to that, the Egyptian state had never considered building for its citizens places of worship that are not mosques. Now things are different. The state has taken upon itself to build in every new community… The state is even trying to resolve the old problems by building churches for its citizens, because they have the right to worship like everybody else. If we had other religions in Egypt, we would have built places of worship for them. If we had Jews, we would have built [synagogues] for them, and we would have done the same for other religions. Why? Because a citizen has the right to worship as he pleases, and, by the way, he has the right not to worship at all. We do not interfere with this. We do not interfere with this.
By the most modest estimate, the restoration of Syria will cost $300 billion, and according to the highest estimate, it will cost as much as $1 trillion. I'd like any of you to tell me what any Syrian government, whether it represents the majority or a minority, can possibly do with such a challenge. Do you think that anyone in the world would extend a helping hand? I am saying this out in the open. Do you think anyone would take $300 billion and just give it to Syria? They are fighting over $10 billion… The conflicts in the world revolve around influence, money, and interests. Do you expect anyone to give you $300 billion to fix your country? Wasn't it you who broke it? Wasn't it you who destroyed it? Why would anyone fix it for you? They won't fix it for you. They will fix their own country. They will build their own country and help their own youth. I'm talking about developed countries. As for you people – you do this to your own countries. You destroy your own countries. By God, you won't hear the things I'm telling you from anybody else.