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Rome Reports

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Former Nuncio in Egypt: A look at the Arab Spring from the inside

ARCH. MICHAEL LOUIS FITZGERALD Former Papal Nuncio in Egypt "Something has happened, I think there is a greater freedom of expression for everybody really.�

Despite the progress, there are still a lot of challenges. The Archbishop, who served as the  papal nuncio in Egypt from 2006 to 2012, talked about this during a presentation at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies.

ARCH. MICHAEL LOUIS FITZGERALD Former Papal Nuncio in Egypt "There has been violence. There have been attacks on churches, on people. They don't feel they are sufficiently defended by the present government.�

While attacks on Christians and churches are a reality, the Archbishop says it can't really be described as a religious war. He says it's not Egypt's government or even people of power who are directly behind the attacks, but rather Islamic extremists.   This he says, has been a step backwards for religious freedom, Christians and also economic stability of Egypt.

ARCH. MICHAEL LOUIS FITZGERALD Former Papal Nuncio in Egypt  "Because the country needs foreign investment. It needs tourists to come because the tourists trade is a big element in its revenue.â?

Christians are a minority in Egypt. About 90 percent of the population is Muslim. By law, blasphemy against Islam can be punishable by imprisonment or in extreme cases death.

ARCH. MICHAEL LOUIS FITZGERALD Former Papal Nuncio in Egypt "It needs also courage, on the part of both Christians and Muslims to keep alive the values of the Arab Spring.�

With elections this year, Arch. Fitzgerald says he hopes the country can reflect the desire for change, that triggered the Arab Spring in the first place.