The Azayemiya order, one of Egypt's largest Sufi orders, granted Coptic Christian businessman Naguib Sawiris its "Man of the Year" award on Sunday.
“We chose Sawiris from among a number of prominent figures,” said order head Mohamed Alaa Abul Azayem. “He deserves to be honored.”
“With this award, we confirm our commitment to national unity,” he added, stressing that recent incidents of sectarian strife had been caused by "ignorance and extremism" on the part of certain Muslim and Coptic leaders.
Some independent bloggers, meanwhile, criticized Abul Azayem for giving the award to Sawiris.
“Little do they know,” the Sufi leader responded.
According to Abul Azayem, ten Egyptian Sufi orders had adopted a “national unity initiative” aimed at resolving differences between the country's Muslims and Coptic Christians.
Sawiris, for his part, expressed sympathy for Abul Azayem in the face of criticism leveled at the Sufi leader by Salafist Muslims, who adopt a strict interpretation of Islamic religious texts.
“Both Muslims and Copts believe in the same God,” said Sawiris. “And He will preserve our unity.”
Translated from the Arabic Edition.