Christ at the Checkpoint 4 – The Gospel in the Face of Religious Extremism

Christ at the Checkpoint

Bethlehem Bible College invites you to the fourth “Christ at the Checkpoint” Conference, which will take place in Bethlehem from March 7-10, 2016. The conference hopes to follow the success of the first three conferences (2010, 2012, and 2014). The theme of this conference will be “Christ at the Checkpoint 4: The Gospel in the Face of Religious Extremism”.

The motivation for organizing the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference is that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with its many complexities still exists. In fact, since our last conference in March 2014, the conflict and the reality of the occupation have worsened. The religious aspect of the conflict, which has not been the primary issue in the past, has become more pronounced. We have seen a marked increase in religious extremism particularly within the Jewish and Muslim communities in our region, and, to a lesser degree, in the Christian community in the West. More than ever, as the Evangelical Christian community in Palestine, we feel an urgent and relevant need to address these issues. Continue reading “Christ at the Checkpoint 4 – The Gospel in the Face of Religious Extremism”

Serata Onesimos – ISIS si criza din Orientul Apropiat

serata ISIS

Asociația Culturala Onesimos vă invita la serata cu tema

ISIS și Criza din Orientul Mijlociu

Într-un context în care auzim din ce în ce mai frecvent termeni și expresii precum: ”război în orient”, ”criza din Siria”, ”refugiați”, ”terorism”, ”grupări teroriste” etc. este firesc să ne întrebăm cum le înțelegem, cum ne implicăm, ne putem oare implica sau trebuie?, cum ne raportăm la informațiile pe care le primim si cum le discernem.

Vă invităm să participați la acest dialog între Danuț Jemna și Dănuț Mănăstireanu, Director pentru credință în dezvoltare, pentru regiunea Orientului Mijlociu și a Europei de Est, al World Vision International.

Locație: Strada Vânători 7, Iași (Tătărași, în spatele Spitalului de Neurologie) – Locația Bisericii Străjerul

Duminica 8 februarie, între orele 18.00 – 20.00

Intrare liberă.

 

Paradise lost: is Christianity doomed in the Middle East?

Paradise lost: is Christianity doomed in the Middle East?.

On the fate of Christianity in the Middle East. A thorough article.

Jean-Luc Marion – After the Charlie Hebdo Massacre: Islam Must Open Itself To Critique

Charlie Hebdo

This article was originally published in French in Le Point. It was translated by Myriam Renaud.

France is at war; we can no longer doubt that this is the case. But this war has at least three fronts.

The first front is obvious: an act of war occurred in Paris, against a magazine, leaving more than a dozen dead. The government and the nation have started to respond. The government is taking up its principal role—the protection of citizens, handling the security concerns with which it has been entrusted. It is acting as quickly and as well as it can.

As for the nation, we have already witnessed that, far from crumbling and yielding to fear, it is uniting. A republican reflex will bolster this coming together, and extremists will not benefit in the slightest from the crisis. Continue reading “Jean-Luc Marion – After the Charlie Hebdo Massacre: Islam Must Open Itself To Critique”

A New Kind of Consensus: Reforming Islam in the Internet Generation | The Institute of Middle East Studies

A New Kind of Consensus: Reforming Islam in the Internet Generation | The Institute of Middle East Studies.

This is a text worth reading. here is the conclusion:

‘I argue that through this Internet Generation of Muslim thought, devoid of this particular identity crisis, there is hope for a new chapter of reformation in Islam. Additionally, there is hope for an inter-faith role in this reformation. These rising Muslim voices are not cloistered in their own communities. These Euro-American voices that have gained such traction are living amongst Christians, Jews, Atheists, Buddhists, and Hindus, which may explain why many fight not only against Islamophobia, but anti-Semitism and the persecution of Sikhs. During this period of reformation, the Western Christian community should be encouraged to strengthen their relationships with those in their local Muslim community. Christian communities should not view their Muslim neighbors or colleagues as suspicious threats or harbingers of violence and “creeping Shari‘a” but rather cohorts in building a respectful, safer, more loving world.’

Thanks, Rose Khouri.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide – Urgent prayer for Nigeria

Massacre in Baga, Borno State, Nigeria

Dear friend,

The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love. Psalm 33:18
I’m writing this week to ask you to pray urgently for Nigeria. The events of the last week have left me almost speechless with horror.

Hundreds of lives have been lost over two days, in the most brutal attack yet from Boko Haram, an Islamist terror organisation which has vowed to rid Nigeria of Christianity.

Devastating accounts from survivors reveal the extent of the horror that unfolded as Boko Haram razed Baga Town and several other towns to the ground. The inhabitants have all been either killed or forced to flee. Almost all the houses and churches have been destroyed. Continue reading “Christian Solidarity Worldwide – Urgent prayer for Nigeria”

Andrei Plesu – Crima, libertate, religie

Andrei Plesu

Cred că aproape nimic n-a rămas nespus cu privire la tragedia petrecută zilele trecute la Paris. Lucrurile sunt, mai mult decît în alte cazuri, deopotrivă simple și greu sistematizabile. Confuzia vine din faptul că (cel puțin) trei probleme distincte au fost aduse de desfășurarea evenimentelor în același plan, cînd, de fapt, țin de planuri diferite. Prin contaminare reciprocă, cele trei probleme își pierd contururile, ceea ce suspendă înțelegerea corectă a fiecăreia în parte. Continue reading “Andrei Plesu – Crima, libertate, religie”

An Interview with David W. Shenk on Christian-Muslim Relations

David W. Shenk

David W Shenk is my favourite evangelical specialist in Islam. He is the author of a number of books on this topic, among which A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue, a book he has written with Muslim lay scholar Badru D Kateregga.

I had the privilege us using David’s services in training the members of my team in World Vision for a Christian understanding of Islam, and I was always impressed with his irenic spirit, which is so specific to his Mennonite tradition. Thank God for people like Shenk. We need more like him these days.

Here is the recording of a quire recent interview with David Shenk, following the publication of his book Christian. Muslim, Friend. (Find HERE on my blog a short presentation of this book.)

John Azumah – Challenging Radical Islam

John Azumah

Dr. John A. Azumah is Associate Professor of World Christianity and Islam; and Director of International Programs at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ge, USA. Before moving to the States, Dr. Azumah led the Centre for Islamic Studies at my alma mater, London School of Theology. I also had the privilege of serving, together with him in the Theology Task Force of the Lausanne Movement. John is one the the most competent specialists on Islam in the evangelical community.

In an excellent recent article published by the Catholic journal First Things, Dr. John Azumah discusses in a balanced and scholarly manner the relations between Islam, violence and terrorism. His text is even more relevant in the context of the recent tragedy in Paris, where two Islamist militants killed twelve people and injured many more at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters.

Here are the most important sections of this paper (emphases are mine). Continue reading “John Azumah – Challenging Radical Islam”

Philip Jenkins – The 160-Year Christian History Behind What’s Happening in Ukraine

The 160-Year Christian History Behind What’s Happening in Ukraine | Christianity Today.

This text, written by historian Philip Jenkins, from Baylor University, could help us understand the historical background of the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia. And, yes, this is, again, about Russian exceptionalism, apocalipticism and imperial drive, all clothed shrewdly in the Eastern Orthodox garments of the ‘Third Rome’.

Vlad Mixich – Cea mai buna zi din an pentru rasistul din mine

E greu sa nu caut vinovati pentru masacrul de la Charlie Hebdo. Valul emotional a fost atat de mare, incat doar trei criminali nu-mi ajung. Vreau mai mult. Vreau sa dau vina pe jurnalistii care critica prea mult. Vreau sa dau vina pe musulmani. Vreau sa dau vina pe religii.

12 oameni au fost executati cu sange rece, in toiul zilei, in cea mai frumoasa capitala a Europei. Acolo unde ma duc sa ma indragostesc. Sa ma imbrac bine. Sa ma visez frumos.

E prea grotesc. E prea enorm pentru ca doar trei criminali sa fie de vina. E sigur vorba de ceva mai mult. De o ciocnire mai apocaliptica. De o revolta. De inceputul unui razboi.

Asa am simtit in ultimele 24 de ore. Si in continuare tot asa sunt ispitit sa simt. Ispita periculoasa, greu de respins dupa ce-l vezi pe Abu Musab, un lider ISIS, spunand mandru ca “Leii nostri au comis atacul. Curg doar primele picaturi de sange. Cruciatii trebuie sa se teama, pentru ca o merita”. Continue reading “Vlad Mixich – Cea mai buna zi din an pentru rasistul din mine”

A Dialogue with Dr John Wolff, on Violence in Islam and Christianity


Dr. John Wolffe,
The Open University

On 10 December I have published HERE on my blog a commentary on a dispute in British academic circles occasioned by some statements made at an event in the British Parliament by MP Desmond Swayne, who is also Minister of State for International Development. In my critical commentary, I have suggested that Dr John Wolffe’s guest post on the Lapidomedia website left the impression that violence in Islam is more… violent than violence in Christianity.

Dr. Wolffe had the kindness of responding to my blog post, which occasioned an exchange of clarification emails between us, which Dr. Wolffe kindly allowed me to post here. Which I gladly do now. Continue reading “A Dialogue with Dr John Wolff, on Violence in Islam and Christianity”

Christians and Muslims Gather at Egypt’s al-Azhar University to Condemn Islamist Terrorism

al-azhar-logo

International conference led by Coptic Pope and Grand Imam

Cairo/Aleteia (Aleteia.org/ar) – Muslim and Christian theologians agreed to promote the concept of brotherhood among Christians, Muslims and adherents of other religions in the face of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam.

Last week, Al-Azhar, the highest authority for Sunni Islam, convened an international conference on terrorism at al-Azhar University in the Egyptian capital on Wednesday and Thursday (12/10 and 12/11). The conference brought together 600 Islamic and Christian theologians from 120 countries and included several patriarchs or their representatives. The conference was led by both Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Mosque, Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayyib.

Participants stressed a priority of applying the “moderate way” of Islam. The meeting centered on the necessity of teaching the correct concept of “Jihad” and opposition to brainwashing the youth who are fighting alongside the Islamic State group. Continue reading “Christians and Muslims Gather at Egypt’s al-Azhar University to Condemn Islamist Terrorism”

Christian Violence Is Not So Violent As Muslim Violence. Or Is It?

 
Rt Hon Desmond Swayne  and Dr. John Wolffe

A quite vigorous polemic opposed these days a British MP, Desmond Swayne, who is also Minister of State for International Development, who was a banker, but also has a degree in theology from St Andrew’s University, and, among others, John Wolffe, who is Professor of Religious History at The Open University and a Research Councils UK Global Uncertainties Leadership Fellow, over the evaluation of the amount of violence in Christianity and Islam.

The polemic was occasioned by a series of remarks that Desmond Swayne has made at a freedom of religion event organised on 25 November by Baroness Berridge in the British Parliament, on the way BBC and European public in general speak about ISI/ISIL. In his speach, as described HERE, Swayne criticised Christians who argue that ‘Islam is uniquely and particularly suited to violent expression and persecution of other religions,’ saying such people were delivering ‘absolute manifest nonsense’. And he added: ‘I don’t think there’s anything ISIL can come up with that Christians have not matched at some stage in history… We used to burn one another over relatively trivial aspects of doctrine’, he said, adding: ‘It wasn’t until 1964 that the greater part of Christianity accepted the principle of religious freedom.’

His remarks have created quite a stir, especially among those entertaining Islamophobic feelings in the British context. Continue reading “Christian Violence Is Not So Violent As Muslim Violence. Or Is It?”

Dr. Martin Accad on the Silent Majority of Religious in the Middle East Who Want Peace

October 2014

Martin Accad, of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut, Lebanon, tells Catalyst Live of the silent majority of religious in the Middle East who want peace.

Archbishop of Mosul on ISIS

His Eminence, Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, the Archbishop of Mosul, is weeping while explaining the misery of the Iraqi Christians, who had to leave their homes in Mosul and the surrounding villages over 3 months ago. Today, they are suffering the cold winter under the poor tents in Erbil (Kurdistan). Those Christians are still speaking Syriac (Aramaic) until today.

Jon Huckins – Why You Need More Muslim Friends

Pope Benedict & Ahmedinejad
Pope Benedict & Muslims

I can remember when I was scared of Muslims.

I don’t think I would have ever uttered those words, but subconsciously, they were true.

As a good, Bible-Believing-Evangelical-Christian (that’s all one word, right?) who could recite the two greatest commandments to love God and love others before I was out of diapers, how had this fear developed in me?

Well, it’s easy. Stories we are told about Muslims are often related to terror, oppression and violence. And, to be honest, it is far more comfortable to remain in a place of isolation and ignorance than it is to engage in the intentional work of education, experience and relationship.

Further, I used to think the only way to meet Muslims was to fly half way across the world and enter into a reality completely foreign to my own. “They” are somewhere over there and “we” are over here, so let’s just agree to keep our distance and allow our politicians and power brokers to work things out.

That all changed for me when my wife and I joined a faith community committed to Jesus’ invitation to love our neighbors. We quickly realized loving our neighbors required we know our neighbors. And, living in a city that is home to tens of thousands of international refugees, we discovered that “they” don’t only live across the world, “they” are at “our” baseball games, in our neighborhood and our parks. It wasn’t that our Muslim friends had just moved in, it was that we hadn’t had the eyes to see them, let alone enter genuine friendships.

Over the years, I have discovered that the only way to love and be loved by my neighbors (locally and globally) is to be in relationship. The reason I used to be scared of Muslims was simply because I didn’t know any. I had never heard their stories. I had never been to their sacred places. I didn’t understand their traditions. I hadn’t even shared a meal with them.

I have come to realize what an incredible opportunity I had squandered. Interestingly, what I had squandered wasn’t primarily what I had to offer my neighbors, but what they had to offer me.

As ISIS fills the headlines, Islamphobia spreads like the common cold and sound bites trump human interaction, there is no more important time to build friendships with our Muslim neighbors. Here are five reasons why:

1. A Cure for Fear

Fear is one of the most toxic diseases hijacking Christian’s ability to live as salt and light. Not only do we often tell ourselves that everyone is out to get us, we think relationships with those different than us leave us open to falling down the slippery slope of compromise.

I have never met a Muslim who asks me to compromise my commitment to Jesus. If anything, they encourage me to take it more seriously. Being in relationship with people who are different than us doesn’t compromise our faith, it reflects the very best of it. A mentor of mine recently said, “The deeper our roots are in Jesus, the wider our branches can extend into other traditions.”

2. An Expanded Worldview

I recently sat in a West Bank backyard with a collection of 20 Christians and Muslims. Having just spent a few days together, we sang, danced and shared what we had each learned about the other’s religious tradition based on our experience together. It was sacred. The worldview of both the Christians who were with me and the Muslims who lived in this village will forever view the “other” in a more helpful, human way.

In many other parts of the world, Christians and Muslims don’t see themselves as enemies, but as dear friends, partners and fellow humans. When we extend past our inherited worldview, we may see a very different landscape of interfaith collaboration. What media sources, experiences or influencers are we allowing to inform our worldview? How might that become more diverse?

3. An Antidote to Isolationism

We, the Christian community, can fall victim to becoming insulated and isolated, which inherently puts us in a posture of defense rather than invitation. When our relationships remain only among those who think, look and believe like we do, we run the risk of becoming exclusive and tribal. Which, ironically, is so much of the West’s critique of regimes like ISIS.

The antithesis of Christ-like love is to only be in relationship with those who are like “us,” while excluding “them.” As we begin to build relationships with those outside of our tradition, we break out of our little bubbles and are able to truly love like Jesus. Jesus never ran in fear from those who were different than him. No, he ran to people who were different. Our inherited theology may distance us from those of other religions, but Jesus never does.

4. A Solution for Our Need for Mutual Relationship

Our Christian tradition hasn’t historically done well at entering relationships with those outside of our tradition in a posture of mutuality. Our tendency has been to enter relationships as the hero rather than the learner.

As we build friendships with our Muslim neighbors, we must do so seeking to understand rather than be understood. Genuine friendship is not a project. Get curious. Share life and space. Spend long hours around the dinner table. Take each other’s kids to school. Accept their love in the same way you would expect them to receive yours.

5. An Understanding of Misrepresentation

I just got an email from my friend, Jarrod McKenna, who as a Jesus follower, is doing remarkable work reassigning dignity to the Muslim community in Australia. Sadly, his email was to tell me that a Muslim family was violently attacked, not because of their actions, but because of their religion.

In my city, a Muslim mom was recently killed outside of her house for similar reasons. These are just a couple acts of hatred and prejudice of our Muslim neighbors are enduring as a result of our inability to differentiate between Islamic extremists (ISIS, etc.) and the majority of Muslims.

The Christian Community must understand that the vast majority of Muslims are embarrassed and concerned for their own safety as a result of ISIS, and we must advocate for their humanity. If we are in genuine friendship, our advocacy will become a non-negotiable.

(Source, HERE.) Thanks to my friend Ana Calvo for this link.

* * *
Jon Huckins
Jon Huckins is the Co-Founding Director of The Global Immersion Project, which cultivates everyday peacemakers. He is also missional church leadership coach with Thresholds. After extensive international travel and study in the Middle East, Jon focuses much of his writing and speaking on peacemaking, reconciliation and the role of the Church as an instrument of peace in the world. He writes for Red Letter Christians, Sojourners and RELEVANT and has written two books, Teaching Through the Art of Storytelling and Thin Places: Six Postures for Creating and Practicing Missional Community. Jon has a Master’s degree from Fuller Theological Seminary and lives in San Diego with his wife Jan, daughters Ruby and Rosie. Find Jon at jonhuckins.net, Twitter or Facebook.

Continue reading “Jon Huckins – Why You Need More Muslim Friends”

Este musulmanul aproapele meu?

Este musulmanul aproapele meu
(Sursa, AICI)

Raspunsul evident la intrebarea din titlu, pentru cei mai multi dintre evanghelicii de la noi si de aiurea este, ‘Doamne fereste’. Raspunsul este inradacinat in islamofobia care domina spatiul evanghelic american, ale carui patologii se raspindesc rapid in lume, pe calea dolarului.

In acest context, intiativa unei biserici evanghelice din Arad de a organiza o intilnire in care un imam (din Singapore) si un specialist in islam (din Romania – da, avem si asemenea specialisti intre evanghelici) vor dialoga sub umbrela unei metafore biblice si cristice, aceea a iubirii pentru aproapele nostru.

Sa va pazeasca Dumnezeu de fundamentalistii crestini; ca cei islamici sunt, deocamdata, mai departe. Slava Domnului!

Felicitari si mult succes!

Mae Cannon – Religious Persecution: The Tide of the 21st Century?

Mae Cannon

My WV colleague, Rev. Mae Elise Cannon, has published recently the article below on the Huffington Post website, on inter-religious violence and the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the 21st century. Enjoy! Continue reading “Mae Cannon – Religious Persecution: The Tide of the 21st Century?”

Fr. Boulos Wehbe – Christianity in the MENA Region

World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” (WPF – DC) – Rhodes Forum – 12th Annual Session

September 25–29, 2014

“CHRISTIANITY IN THE MENA REGION” PANEL

Fr. Boulos Wehbe – Moderator

Christianity in the MENA region is as old as Christianity itself. It is there where it was born and it is there where the apostles of Christ established the earliest Christian communities and churches, spreading out after that to the rest of the world. The Book of Acts in the New Testament says that it was in Antioch “where the disciples [of Christ] were called Christians first” (Acts 11:26), and my Patriarch still holds the title of “Patriarch of Antioch and all the East.” Christians have survived and often flourished under Islam, often helping and sharing in fashioning the different facets of its civilization, despite the turmoil and hardships they faced here and there. Continue reading “Fr. Boulos Wehbe – Christianity in the MENA Region”

WorldWatchMonitor – ‘One Week’ Deadlines for Iraqi Christians to Convert or ‘Face the Sword’

Iraqi refugee camp

An Iraqi Christian Mikha Qasha, fleeing from Qaraqosh, has given a personal account of members of the Islamic State, IS, coming to his house and threatening him to leave, convert to Islam or face the sword.

Qasha told Mid-East Christian News, specializing in Christian minorities in the Middle East, that IS members gave him a week to think about it; the threat came with weapons pointed at his head.

Elderly and paralyzed, Qasha, was taken away from Qaraqosh by a friend -in his wheelchair. Eventually he found his grandson, who took him to the predominantly Christian suburb of Ankawa in the province of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region.

According to MCN Direct, others who fled from a district in Nineveh, and from Qaraqosh and Bartella, said IS is now imposing a conversion deadline of one week for any non-Muslim. Qasha’s neighbour, a young man who fled the city this week, said he was hiding in his home with his father when IS members found them on August 17. They gave them a week, until August 24, to convert to Islam or be killed. Continue reading “WorldWatchMonitor – ‘One Week’ Deadlines for Iraqi Christians to Convert or ‘Face the Sword’”

Hind Makki – 7 Questions to Ask Before Asking if Muslims Condemn Terrorism

Many in the Western world, especially among Christians, are asking why Muslims are not condemning terrorism. As if this would be a self-evident fact.

They at least ask. There is, however, even among Christians, especially those of a more fundamentalist persuasion, a growing number of people who are simply accusing Muslims that, in fact, they are not only NOT condemning violence in the name of Allah, but in fact they are condoning it. And, tho this, they add that violence and terrorism is intrinsic to the Muslim faith and the Qur’an.

Such people are guilty of conveniently forgetting the violence done in the past, or present, by Christians, in the name of their own faith,  from the Crusades, to the present so-called ‘war on terror’, as well as the violence and terrorism used by Jews, in the name of Yahweh, either in the so-called Joshua genocide, or the use of sheer terrorism in Palestine prior to the establishment of the state of Israel, in 1948. Not to speak of Israel’s state terrorism during the present bloody war in Gaza.

This being the case, it is good for us to listen to the voice of moderate Muslims, as we may learn a thing or two from them. During my work for World Vision, I had myself the privilege of meeting a few such moderate voices, among which I have to mentioned Dr. Muhammad Farooq Khan, from Pakistan, who paid with his life for his convictions and his actions on behalf of peace and inter-faith reconciliation.

I copy here below a set of questions that Hind Makki, a Muslim journalist in Chicago, suggests we should ask before wondering if Muslims condemn or not violence in the name of Islam (an example of which you can see in the video clip above). Here are the questions: Continue reading “Hind Makki – 7 Questions to Ask Before Asking if Muslims Condemn Terrorism”

Why US Must Save Lives of Iraq’s Christians, Other Minorities

WEA-RLC

“The world hasn’t seen an evil like this for a generation.” This is how the national spokesman for Iraqi Christians in the United States described atrocities by Isis terrorists in northern Iraq, which include beheading of children and their mothers and fathers, and forcing almost all Christians in the region to flee. While the United States has resumed military action to deal with the crisis in Iraq, its commitment reflects half-heartedness and fails to match the enormity of suffering and potential threats.

“They are systematically beheading children, and mothers and fathers … There’s actually a park in Mosul that they’ve actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick,” Mark Arabo, the spokesman for Iraqi Christians, told CNN. “This is crimes against humanity. The whole world should come together. This is much broader than a community or faith … They are doing the most horrendous, the most heart-breaking things you can think of.”

The Episcopal Vicar of Iraq, Canon Andrew White, recently visited the town of Qaraqosh, which like many other towns and cities has been captured by the Isis, to assess the situation. “The majority of the town’s 50,000 people have fled, fearing that, like other Christians in this region, they will be massacred. The militants, in a further act of sacrilege, have established their administrative posts in the abandoned churches,” he said, according to Catholic Online. Continue reading “Why US Must Save Lives of Iraq’s Christians, Other Minorities”

Ahmad Sarraf – O Christians, Get Out of Our lands!

Ahmed Sarraf
Ahmed Sarraf

Dr. Martin Accad, Director of the Institute of Middle East Studies in Beirut – Lebanon writes: This is a powerful lament by a Muslim over the fate of Christians in the Middle East. Or more accurately, it is a lament over the fate of Muslims after Christians leave the ME…

I have taken the pains of translating it quickly (informally) into English for the sake of English readers. I have deep respect for this kind of writing, not because it glorifies Christians and their contribution to the ME region, but because it humbles me, as an Arab Christian, that a Muslim writer would be willing to attribute so much to ME Christians. I am also posting it because I know that Sarraf’s piece reflects the feelings of a vast majority of Muslims in the region over the fate of Christians in Iraq and elsewhere. So my English translation is a tribute to my Muslim friends:

“O Christians, get out of our lands!” (an article written by Ahmad Sarraf that first appeared in Al-Qabas newspaper on 21/07/2014 – this translation by Martin Accad is not an official translation and was done for the sole purpose of sharing on Facebook). Continue reading “Ahmad Sarraf – O Christians, Get Out of Our lands!”

Yazidi Religious Beliefs: History, Facts, And Traditions Of Iraq’s Persecuted Minority

Yazidi Religious Beliefs: History, Facts, And Traditions Of Iraq’s Persecuted Minority.

Who are really the Yazidi, who are now persecuted and threatened with extinction by ISIS. And, no, they are not Satan worshipers, as many have suggested.

Joint Statement on Israel and Gaza by Imam Mohamed Magid and Rabbi Michael G. Holzman

Joint Statement on Israel/Gaza

July 22, 2014

Imam Mohamed Magid & Rabbi Michael G. Holzman

The current military operations in Israel and the Gaza strip should disturb all people of faith. The only moral path to a solution between Israelis and Palestinians (Israeli Jewish/Muslim/Christian and Palestinian Muslim/Christian) will be dialogue and negotiation. This is a long and arduous path, but the faith that grounds our traditions can sustain the slow evolution of history. The current conflict is an outgrowth of over a century of opposing narratives and ideological differences that no military operations can resolve.

Our traditions exist to uphold the moral foundations for civilizations and as such we urge an end to the current violence. While we acknowledge the need for self defense, when the can of violence opens, as it has now, worms of vengeance and blood-feud crawl out. Then people begin to abandon the principles of justice and mercy upon which civilizations are founded. Instead they turn to more tribal urges, seeking retribution for past wrongs.

We believe the current violence crosses that line. At some point people cease looking for solutions and instead succumb to base human urges for violence. They crave the blood of the enemy to compensate for the pain of loss. This is the way of our animal instincts, the ethos of ancient tribes and clans who exist only to protect all within, while opposing all others. The teachings of our ancestors rose above that thinking long ago to build great civilizations. We believe that when we look to our texts and traditions we can rise above the narrative of suffering and victimization to find roads to healing and wholeness.

The Torah this week teaches of the “Cities of Refuge” (Numbers 35: 6-28) places where a person can flee after an accidental death or manslaughter in order so that relatives of the deceased cannot exact revenge. The one who flees must face criminal justice, and the City of Refuge serves as both a haven and prison for the man slaughterer while restricting the blood thirst of the avenger. The people living in Israel and Gaza can look at the current situation and see only murder and intentional killing, or they can see how decades of hatred breed spontaneous violence. In these heated emotions, our traditions call for cooling off, seeking refuge, and then finding a path to justice. Only through such systems can order and peace be restored.

Several verses from the Quran also give us reminders to work for the protection of life and how to respond with good and forgiveness in times of major challenge and conflict.

“Good and wrong cannot be equal; repel wrong with something which is better and verily he between whom and thyself was enmity may then become as though he had always been a close, true friend.” (Quran 41:34)

The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from God: for (God) loveth not those who do wrong(Quran 42:40)

Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) humans;- for God loves those who do good(Quran 3:134)

“Whoever kills a person, unless [as punishment through due process] for murder or mischief in the land, it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Quran 5:32)

While we do not pretend to know the pain of the mourners, we also urge them to honor their loved ones not through the tribal urge for revenge, but rather to build up societies of justice and mercy.

These values are the cornerstones of civilization and the paving stones to peace. Seeking more blood for blood only perverts and discards the great traditions of Islam and Judaism. We abandoned an “eye for an eye” centuries ago. Now we urge our brothers and sisters in the Middle East to seek a solution that protects the self while fostering compassion for the other.

Continue reading “Joint Statement on Israel and Gaza by Imam Mohamed Magid and Rabbi Michael G. Holzman”

David Grossman – On hope and despair in the Middle East

Separation wall (Mary Perry)
Iarael’s wall of shame

Hope and despair. For years, we were tossed back and forth between one and the other. Today, most Israelis and Palestinians seem to be in a gloomy, flat, state of mind, one with no horizon; dully comatose, a self-induced numbness.

Today, in an Israel that has known so much disappointment, hope (if ever mentioned at all) is always hesitant, a bit timid, and apologetic. Despair, on the other hand, is utterly confident and self-assured, as if speaking on behalf of a law of nature, an axiom that states that between these two peoples there shall never be peace, that the war between them is a heavenly decree, and that altogether, it will always be bad here, nothing but bad. As despair sees it, anyone who still hopes, who still believes in the possibility of peace, is at best naïve, or a deluded dreamer, and at worst, a traitor who weakens Israel’s wherewithal by encouraging it to be seduced by false visions.

In this sense, the Israeli right has won. The right, which adheres to this worldview – certainly over the last decades – has managed to instill it in a majority of Israelis. One could say that the right has not only vanquished the left: It has vanquished Israel. And not just because this pessimistic worldview is pushing Israel into paralysis in the area most fateful to its survival, the area where boldness and flexibility and creativity are required; the right has vanquished Israel by crushing what once could have been called “the Israeli spirit”: that spark, the ability to remake ourselves, that “nevertheless” spirit, and courage. And hope. Continue reading “David Grossman – On hope and despair in the Middle East”

Some Considerations on A Possible Solution in the Israel/Palestine Conflict

 

map of occupied west bank
Map of West Bank

I believe it is important to start recognising the right of Israel to exist as a state, however ambiguous was its beginning. It is obvious we cannot go back to the situation before 1948.

Also, I really doubt a two state solution is viable anymore. A short glimpse at the Schweitzer-like map of West Bank above, with the separating wall of shame, with all the Israeli settlements and roads, built on stolen Palestinian land, should convince you of that. Peace and occupation, with its apartheid-like separation is totally incompatible with peace. Violence, on both sides, as condemnable as it is, is unavoidable if the present status quo continues.

The right to return for the over 700,000 Palestinian pushed out of their homes in the Nakhba is very problematic, and controversial, because of its demographic implications, which would make impossible the present anachronistic and unsustainable definition of Israel as an ethnic state. But its a priori refusal by the Israeli government makes impossible for the Palestinians to accept the right of Israel to exist.
Continue reading “Some Considerations on A Possible Solution in the Israel/Palestine Conflict”

World Vision Update on Gaza

A World Vision update.

Please pray for peace in Palestine and Israel.

World Watch Monitor – ISIS invades monastery, steals ‘everything’ from Iraqi Christians

 


Displaced Iraqi Christians who fled with families from Mosul city receives humanitarian aid at Virgin Mary church
in Qaraqosh village near Mosul city, northern Iraq (source, The Telegraph)

After every known Christian is reported to have left Mosul, Islamic State fighters, IS, have now taken over a monastery near the largely Christian town of Qaraqosh, 32 miles southeast of Mosul.

According to Agence France Presse IS expelled its three resident monks, a cleric and a few families living there, ordering them to leave on foot with nothing but their clothes.

Members of the self-proclaimed “Islamic Caliphate” stormed the ancient fourth-century monastery Mar (Saint) Behnam, run by the Syriac Catholic church on Sunday July 20.

“You have no place here anymore, you have to leave immediately,” a member of the Syriac clergy quoted the Sunni militants as telling the monastery’s residents.

According to AFP the monks walked several miles before being picked up by armed Kurdish fighters who drove them to Qaraqosh.

The BBC reported that Syriac Catholic leaders have said priceless manuscripts, about both the history of Iraq and the Church, are now at risk in the monastery.

Militants of IS are reported to have killed Dr. Mahmoud Al-Asali, a professor of Law at the University of Mosul on July 21.

According to Ankawa.com, Al-Asali, a Muslim, was killed for objecting to IS looting and destroying Iraqi Christians’ possessions in Mosul, but WWM could not independently verify this.

The office and residence of the Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Yohanna Petros Moshe (in one building) has been burned down.

(Read HERE the rest of this article.)

 

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