Egypt’s Ministry of Education has approved a course which examines religious values and verses that have the same meaning in the three Abrahamic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The course will allow Egyptian students to study verses from the Jewish religion for the first time ever, Al Monitor reported on Monday.
According to the report, the Egyptian Parliament last month praised the Education Ministry for approving the course.
Kamal Amer, the head of the parliamentary defense and national security committee, said in parliament on February 26, “The Ministry of Education’s approval of the subject of religious values shared between the divine religions expresses the state’s keenness to spread the values of tolerance and fraternity.”
The three religions “include common values that students must study to be able to confront the extremist and takfirist ideas that backward groups are working to spread in society,” Amer said, adding, “President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is keen to teach the youth the values of respect for others, tolerance and rejection of fanaticism and extremism. This is why the Ministry of Education decided to teach the subject of common values in schools.”
On February 14, according to Al Monitor, the Ministry of Education approved the parliament’s proposal on the subject of common values between all the Abrahamic religions and the principles of tolerance, citizenship and coexistence.
Farid el-Bayadi, a member of the defense and national security committee and author of the proposal, told Al Monitor, “The decision to teach this subject in schools will play an important role in spreading principles and values that stand against extremism and hatred.”
“Teaching students texts that carry common values from the three Abrahamic religions is essential in terms of strengthening the principles of humanity. The crisis lies in extremist interpretations of texts that may lead to intolerance and hatred,” he added.
There were between 80,000 and 120,000 Jews in Egypt up until the mid-20th century, but the 1948 War of Independence led to the disintegration of the community, with many leaving Egypt or being forced out under the regime of then-president Gamal Abdel Nasser.
In 2017, the Egyptian government approved a $22 million plan to restore the 160-year-old Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria, which is the last active synagogue in the city but which had been forced to close after part of its ceiling fell down.
In December of 2018, Sisi announced he would allocate $71 million for the renovation of synagogues and Jewish heritage sites in the country.
The Egyptian President said in 2019 his government would build synagogues and provide services to the Jewish community if there is a resurgence of the community in the country.