Visiting the villages of Qufada and Maghagha, January 16, 2016

Sent On: 
Tue, 2015-12-15
Newsletter Number: 

Discovering conflict resolution traditions in Egypt: visiting the villages of Qufada and Maghagha, January 16, 2016



Please do not forget to make a donation for our work!!

Visiting locations outside big and touristic cities in Egypt is not easy. It is even harder to discover traditions that are important to local people and rarely well understood by Egyptians, let alone non-Egyptians, in a big city like Cairo. The Center for Arab-West Understanding is not only Egypt’s largest internship provider but is probably also the only organization in Egypt that is capable of bringing people to locations that are rarely ever  visited by people who are not from those areas. That is due to the reputation the Center for Arab-West Understanding has built up over the years. However, maintaining an organization like our NGO in difficult financial circumstances is not easy. That is why we asked you yesterday to donate to our work. Please do so!  We will be glad to provide you with a certificate for the donation in your name or that of someone of your choice. The certificate can contain the promise that we will provide the person you chose to make the donation for with a gift from Egypt. To view the gifts available, please see the donation page of the Arab-West Foundation.


January 16: people living in Egypt or visiting Egypt can join this unique visit


In June this year news broke about a Christian family being evicted from Kafr Darwish, not far from Maghagha, south of Beni Suef. A young Christian man had been accused of blasphemy, and thus a local customary reconciliation (urfi) session was conducted. This session resulted in the decision that the extended family would have to pay a high fine, which was to be used for Muslim community work, and the father of the young man (since the young man himself is not in Egypt) would carry a shroud, this being a sign of great humiliation. The family refused, and as a consequence was evicted from the village, creating a huge outcry about the use of urfi reconciliation sessions instead of going to court.


On Saturday January 16, the Center for Arab-West Understanding is planning to visit the village of Qufada to speak with local urfi judge sheikh Hamdi Abdelfattah (Salafi) about these urfi reconciliation sessions. This visit will be led by Cornelis Hulsman, who knows this part of Egypt well.


Sheikh Hamdi participated in local meetings with other urfi judges, and composed handwrittenguidelines for urfi rulings. The sheikh shared these with the Arab-West Report. Khaled H. Zakaria typed these out and our British intern Ella Volkmann translated this. These guidelines give a unique insight into the thinking behind urfi rulings in this part of Egypt. One should of course be aware that urfi sessions are not all the same in Egypt and differ from location to location.


Urfi rulings are not just based on Islamic law. They are composed of a mixture of Islamic law and local traditions that can be very strong and considered, in particular villages and towns in less Western influenced areas, to be more important than Egyptian civil law.  


Qufada is also an area of great poverty, and during this visit we will learn from Coptic Orthodox priest Father Yo’annis what is being done to address the poverty in his village.

Of course, one cannot visit the area without seeing some beautiful touristic highlights such as Gebel el-Tayr with its magnificent view over the Nile, which we will cross by ferry, thereby enjoying a view of the Nile. We stop at Bayahu, with a church that miraculously flew from the Delta to this village 500 years ago, and continue to Qufada, the main destination for the day. For more information about our program please click here.


Costs and please do not forget to donate to our work


The costs are 250 EgP per person which are indeed very low since we want to make it possible for everyone to join. Cornelis Hulsman and Jayson Casper (translation) work without a fee. If anything is left after deduction of costs, it will be used to cover our deficits. We are truly struggling to make ends meet and would appreciate your contributions to either the Arab-West Foundation in the Netherlands (for donations outside Egypt) or the Center for Arab-West Understanding (for donations inside Egypt).



Koen Vliegenthart,                                                                          Sawsan Gabra Ayoub Khalil,

Chairman Arab-West Foundation,                               Chair Center for Arab-West Understanding,

The Netherlands                                                                              Egypt