(Anaheim - Sept. 20, 2012): Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles along with Fathers Fellimon Mikhael, Bishoy Kamel, Joseph Boulos and Gregory Bishay met with the Islamic Shura Council. The meeting was convened at the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove. Welcoming the Coptic leadership, the Chairman of the Islamic Shura Council, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi said, "Muslims appreciate your visit and I welcome you on their behalf. Our pulpits must preach and practice deeper respect for all that is sacred. And this we must do urgently and more frequently for our respective communities."
The Coptic Diocese and the Islamic Shura Council have been in constant conversation since last week but because of logistics, the meeting took place on Wednesday the 19th of September. The leaders focused on understanding the "underlying reasons and root causes" for expressions of hate and agreed that this malaise exists primarily because of lack of information and misinformation. They also acknowledged the danger that lies in some special interest groups and some people with special interests who deliberately attempt to stoke fear and hatred as seems to be the case in the production of the movie: The Innocence of Muslims.
Bishop Serapion, spiritual head of 30 churches of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles reaffirmed his "unconditional condemnation of the movie and his respect for Islam and all its symbols, including Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and reiterated the fact that "the ill action of a member of his community is neither reflective of the rich Coptic tradition nor the peaceful Coptic community at large." And he added that "no person can claim to be upholding their faith, be they clergy or laity, if they do not respect others as they would like to be respected."
Both, the Coptic Orthodox Diocese and the Islamic Shura Council leadership mutually agreed to ask their Imams and Priests to lead their Mosques and Churches for increased communication and for greater understanding. In addition, both communities agreed to also initiate educational programs to foster enhanced understanding and deeper respect. Bishop Serapion welcomed the idea of Open Mosque Day (Sunday, October 7th) and assured its promotion in his Diocese.