We are pleased with the growing academic interest in our work. Dr. Rachel Scott, assistant professor of Islamic Studies in the Religious Studies program [IDST] at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA, U.S. visited us. Rachel first visited us in 2003 as a PhD student writing her thesis about Islamist perceptions of non-Muslims, also making use of the material collected in our archive. Her research interests include modern Islamic thought, political Islām, and Muslim-Christian relations. Her primary focus is on the political and social thought of Islamist thinkers and activists including Sayyid Qutb and Muhammad al-Ghazālī, and on the interaction between medieval and modern Islamic thought [see: http://www.aspect.vt.edu/?q=node/61].
Dr. Paul Rowe, assistant professor of Political Studies at Trinity Western University, British Columbia, Canada visited us seven years ago and returned to see how our work had developed. Dr. Rowe focused his dissertation on the politics of Christian minority communities in Middle Eastern states [see: http://www.twu.ca/academics/faculty/default.aspx?profile=rowe-paul]. In 2005 he published "?The Sheep and the Goats? Christian Groups in Lebanon and Egypt in Comparative Perspective,’ in Shatzmiller, ed. Nationalism and Minority Identities in Islamic Societies [McGill - Queens, 2005].
Both scholars were impressed with the tremendous amount of work that had been carried out to develop our Electronic Documentation Center with the various search opportunities that have already been developed and other search facilities that are still under development.
We explained to both scholars that we welcome student interns from their universities and any other possible means of cooperation. We explained the developments in the Electronic Network for Arab-West Understanding [ENAWU] and hope both institutions will join this network.
This issue contains several articles about article two of the Egyptian Constitution that states that the Sharī‘ah is the main source of legislation in Egypt. It is obvious from the discussions that many Christians would like to see this article changed while equally many Muslims insist to keep it. The differences are not limited to Muslim-Christian lines. There are Christians who argue that article two reflects a majority opinion in Egypt and thus has to be accepted.
There are Muslims advocating a separation between religion and state and therefore believe that article two of the Constitution should be changed. The discussions are interesting because they show the many varied perspectives about how writers and intellectuals believe relations between religion and the state should be.
The discussion between Dr. George Bibāwī and the Coptic Orthodox Church hierarchy continues in several articles in this issue, this discussion allows for a wider percentage of the Egyptian public to witness internal divisions within the Coptic Orthodox Church.