In 2015 my second book about dialogue was published with the title Christian-Muslim Relations in Egypt: Politics, Society and Interfaith Encounters through I.B Tauris. The book describes the role of religion in Egyptian society: how the general population secures their future through local networks of power, which is often religiously defined, as they do not trust the state to secure their lives. The book then describes the different forms of discrimination against Christians and how this is perceived differently by different parts of the population. These provide the basis to describe the role of religious dialogue in Egyptian society, and how social positioning influences the goal and method of dialogue. The last chapter describes how the years following the 2011 revolution has changed the dialogue and the relation between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.
Dr. Kate Zebiri, Senior Lecturer in Arabic, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London writes: This study is a timely contribution to a hitherto neglected area, and highlights the vital importance of religion in Egyptian society and politics. Based on many years of experience on the ground, it greatly enhances our understanding of the dynamics of interfaith relations in Egypt. It sheds light on the different types of religious discrimination which occur, while also providing an innovative typology of the various dialogue initiatives in contemporary Egypt. Using the tools of sociology and social psychology, this book will be of interest to scholars, students and those working in the field of interfaith dialogue.
Prof. Mark Sedgwick, Arab and Islamic Studies, Aarhus University writes: Christian-Muslim Relations in Egypt is essential reading for all those interested in today’s Egypt. The book is an important contribution to our understanding of the dynamics of Egyptian society and politics, as well as being a major addition to our knowledge of Christian-Muslim relations. Henrik Lindberg Hansen adds penetrating analysis to the authority of long experience. The book ends with an especially valuable chapter on the controversial events of 2011 and 2013, on their impact at the time, and on their possible future implications.
Prof. David Thomas, School of Philosophy, Theology, and Religion, University of Birmingham writes about Christian-Muslim Relations in Egypt: The networks that operate in Egyptian society are involved and hard to discern, yet they are essential to maintaining relations between both individuals and groups. In this study, Henrik Lindberg Hansen, who has spent many years living in Egypt, shows how dialogue between Christians and Muslims operates through these networks and profits from the links they provide. His study gives a rare insight into unseen aspects of dialogue in Egypt and makes an unusual and distinctive contribution to research in the field of Christian-Muslim dialogue. This book will give both newcomers and established researchers in the field fresh understandings of the practicalities of dialogue and the intricate relations between Egyptian society and religion.
In 2009 my first book about dialogue was published in Danish with the title Om Dialog: Den Dialogiske Ånd og Forståelsen af det Anderledes through Unitas. The book describes dialogue from theological and philosophical perspectives, while it provides an introduction to Islam as a religion and discusses how we understand people with a different life interpretation than our own.
Prof. Mark Sedgwick, Arabisk og Islamstudier, Aarhus University writes on Forum for Islamforsking: Henrik Lindberg Hansen has two overlapping purposes in Om Dialog. One is to explore dialog in the context of Islam, and the other is to explore Islam in the context of dialog. Both these purposes are achieved in a ground-breaking and readable book. … It is the fieldwork – in effect, participant observation of dialog – that is the source of the book’s greatest strength: its understanding of what Islam means to Muslims today. The book is suitable for a general readership and for use with students, as it is clearly written, keeping technical terminology to a minimum, and explaining the meaning of such technical terms as are used. It will also be of interest to researchers interested in the nature and purposes of dialog, and in the encounter between Denmark and Islam. There are other books on dialog and other books on Islam, but few that are so well informed with regard to the current realities of Muslim belief, and none that so directly addresses the contemporary Danish “Islam debate.”
The interview is from BBC World News, where I comment on the peace mission of Pope Francis to Egypt in 2017.
Under Selected Articles on this page, you will find the article Interreligious Dialogue and Politics in Revolutionary Egypt, elaborating further on the topic of dialogue in Egypt.
I apologize for the hand-held phone camera – the internet did not work on my computer on the day of the interview.
The article analyses what is called Official Dialogue in Egypt, and how it has developed since the revolution in 2011.
The Article discusses who the later thoughts of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s can be used to understand religious plurality.
The Cartoon Crisis is discussed to understand how conflicts arise and develop.
A discussion of the concept of belief related to the concept of God. The conclusion is that purpose of the relation to God is to create meaning in people’s lives, and not to distance people who believe differently.