Religious Leaders Unite In Joint Appeal On Acts of Violence In The Name of Religion

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AMMONNEWS – : In recent days, we have read with horror about Christians being asked
to leave the town of Mosul within twenty-four hours. We have also heard about the
desecration of Christian holy spaces and their symbols – the bombing of churches and a cross
being removed from St. Ephrem’s Cathedral, the seat of the Syriac Orthodox archdiocese in
Mosul.

These actions are an appalling blot on the proud tradition of pluralism in a region which has
been home to Chaldeans, Assyrians and other Churches of the East for more than 1,700 years.
Indeed the destruction caused by the violence has engulfed all of the diverse populations that
make up Iraq – the Turkmens, the Yazidis, the Sunnis and Shias, Kurds and tens upon thousands
of Arab families who have been uprooted from the region in fear of their lives. These horrors
continue to unfold on a daily basis and follow a brutal period of fighting in Syria. Today, the
United Nations estimates that one out of every three Syrians is in need of urgent humanitarian
aid. We cannot stand by and watch idly, as the lives of the most vulnerable, our women and
our children are destroyed in the name of religion.

We have also viewed with concern the ongoing situation in Israel and Gaza, and leaving aside
the horror of that situation for a moment, have been particularly distressed by how the name
of religion has been invoked to justify the murder of ordinary people. Statements posted by
young people on social media justifying the taking of innocent lives as “commandments from
God” are a testament to how the pressure of living under the threat of violence can cause the
minds and moral compass of not just the military and seekers of power, but also that of
ordinary civilians to atrophy. We should do all that we can to end the violence even as the
numbers of casualties rise on a daily basis. Now, more than ever, we should all remember the
quote of Malachi 2, verse 10 – “Have we not all one father?”

In these troubling times, when we bear witness to a moral crisis of unparalleled dimensions, we
should recall the Islamic concepts of haq el hurriya and haq el karama, the right to freedom and
the right to human dignity that are to be enjoyed by people of all faiths. To quote the words
from the Quran: “We have honored the children of Adam and carried them on to land and sea.”
(Surah (17) al-Isra’: Verse 70).

It would behove us to remember the words of Rabbi Magonet citing the hallel: “To get out of
this narrowness, I called on God; God answered me with a broader vision. Give thanks to the
eternal who is good, for God’s love is la-olam: for the whole world.”Page 2 of 3
And we should pay close attention to His Holiness Pope Francis’ remarks on the situation in
Mosul, “May the God of peace rouse in everyone an authentic desire for peace and
reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is defeated with peace!”
Religious leaders and their followers must draw strength from the ethical precepts that have
been set over the course of our civilizations. When people turn to their religious leaders for
advice, they must not receive rigid statements drawn from the misinterpretations of religious
beliefs. Rather, they should be able to draw inspiration from the clear ethical standards that
have been set over time, the standards that are born out of the timeless concepts of justice,
compassion, generosity and imagination.

In this spirit, we appeal to the leaders and brokers of power in Mosul, the Middle East region,
and indeed around the world that the holy spaces, both in our sites of worship and in our
hearts, should not devolve into venues that separate us from each other. Instead, they should
be venues for dialogue and for conversation, so that we may recognize the values of human
dignity and solidarity to which we all subscribe. Only by having these shared conversations, we
will be able to better understand each other.

Now, more than ever, it is time that we heed the words put forth in the Qur’an: “There shall be
no compulsion in religion.” (Surah (2) al-Baqarah: verse 256). If we ignore this call for
conciliation, attitudes will continue to harden, and we will witness the people Iraq being torn
asunder – within Muslims and between the people of different faiths in the region. We cannot
allow this tragedy to unfold in a land that is home to one of the world’s most ancient
civilizations. We must repay the debt we owe to Mesopotamia.
Signatories:

HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal, Founder and Chairman, Royal Institute for Inter-Faith
Studies (RIIFS) and Co-Founder & Chairman of the Foundation for Interreligious and
Intercultural Research and Dialogue (FIIRD)

Mr. Jamal Daniel, Co-founder, Vice President and Trustee, Foundation for Interreligious
and Intercultural Research and Dialogue (FIIRD)

Chief Rabbi René-Samuel Sirat, Co-Founder & Secretary, Foundation for Interreligious
and Intercultural Research and Dialogue (FIIRD)

Mgr. Michael L. Fitzgerald, Board Member, Foundation for Interreligious and
Intercultural Research and Dialogue (FIIRD)Page 3 of 3

His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France (Ecumenical Patriarchate) Board
Member, Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue (FIIRD)

Dr. William Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace

Dr. Ahmed Al Kubaisi, Founder of Scholars Association, Iraq

Dr Ahmed Abbadi, Secretary-General of the League of Mohammedan Scholars
in Morocco
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