BEIRUT (CNS) — Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs of the Middle East denounced attacks on Christians and called upon the international community to work toward eradicating terrorist groups.
The patriarchs met Aug. 27 at the Maronite Catholic patriarchate at Bkerke, north of Beirut, for a special summit to address the crisis in the region. They were later joined by the United Nations’ special coordinator in Lebanon and the ambassadors of the five permanent member-countries of the U.N. Security Council.
“The very existence of Christians is at stake in several Arab countries — notably in Iraq, Syria and Egypt — where they have been exposed to heinous crimes, forcing them to flee,” the patriarchs said in a statement after the summit and meeting with diplomats.
They lamented the indifference of both Islamic authorities and the international community over attacks against Christians, who have been in the region for 2,000 years.
“What is painful is the absence of a stance by Islamic authorities, and the international community has not adopted a strict stance either,” the patriarchs said.
“We call for issuing a fatwa (Islamic religious ruling) that forbids attacks against others,” they said.
“The international community cannot keep silent about the existence of the so-called ISIS,” the patriarchs said, referring to the Islamic State. “They should put an end to all extremist terrorist groups and criminalize aggression against Christians and their properties.”
The prelates’ meeting was a follow-up to their first summit Aug. 7. It also follows a trip by several of them to Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, to give moral and spiritual support to the flood of Iraqi minorities driven from the Ninevah Plain by the Islamic State militants.
The prelates stressed the need for cutting off the sources of terrorism and called on the world’s major powers to deprive extremist groups of resources by compelling countries financing them to stop their support.
Solutions to the Islamic State crisis must involve “dealing with the reasons that produced the miseries in the Middle East,” and harmony must be restored between the components of these countries, they said.
“The international community must act and eradicate” the Islamic State, the patriarchs said. “This is required from the United Nations and the U.N. Security Council.”
“We must stop using extremists, terrorists and mercenaries and (stop) supporting, financing and arming them,” they said.
They also stressed “the necessity of working to liberate the towns of Ninevah and facilitate the return of the displaced to their homes, in addition to ensuring the security of these towns with local and international guarantees to prevent displacement.”
The patriarchs denounced the “bleeding” that continues in Syria and said the conflict there must be solved by “dialogue and through a political solution.” They criticized the international community for not resolving the April 2013 kidnapping of two Orthodox bishops in Syria.
The prelates applauded the region’s Christians, who “are committed to the values of the Gospel and the teachings of Christ” exemplified in their relationships with others, “including their Muslim brothers, who live with them in the same nations.”
The Department of State Services (DSS) has warned the general public to be wary of persons of questionable characters who may disguise in Catholic Church Reverend Sisters’ regalia to perpetrate heinous crimes on innocent citizens.
According to a release signed by Deputy Director, Public Relations (DSS), Marilyn Ogar, msi, the warning became necessary following the alleged theft of some pieces of Catholic Church Reverend Sisters’ regalia at Sabon Gari, Kano, by unidentified persons, and the possibility of using same to launch terrorist attacks on the innocent citizens.
It reads: “On 20th August, 2014, about 0400 hours, some unidentified persons broke into a tailoring shop located at No.55 Odutola Street, Sabon Gari, Kano, and stole about thirteen (13) pieces of Catholic Church Reverend Sisters’ regalia. With the recent trend of female suicide bombings in the country, the theft of these regalia heightens concerns about the possibility of terrorist elements using same to perpetrate acts of terror.”
The security operative further called on the citizens to be vigilant and report any suspicious persons to the appropriate authority. “Consequently, this Service wishes to draw the attention of the public to this development, and to call on all citizens to be more circumspect and exercise greater vigilance with users of such peculiar attires. We therefore enjoin all to continue to cooperate with law enforcement agencies through the provision of useful information on suspicious activities within their immediate environment. This Service will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders as we strive to keep our country safe,” it added.
Walking among the starvation cells and gas chambers where more than a million souls perished, it is hard to explain to my 12-year-old son how the free world allowed this happen. Why did the world’s democracies not stop the Nazi movement in its infancy — before it indoctrinated millions with its hateful ideology, took control of a great power, built its military might, invaded foreign lands and constructed death camps like the one here at Auschwitz?
The depressing answer is: for the same reason that the world’s democracies have done almost nothing to stop the rise of the Islamic State.
It is difficult to describe the feeling of spending a day at Auschwitz and then watching the images emanating from the Middle East, where the Islamic State is carrying out acts of unspeakable barbarism — beheading unbelievers; sticking decapitated heads on posts; burying women and children alive; randomly shooting pedestrians and motorists; even crucifying — yes, crucifying — its opponents.
Lying among a pile of papers at the hideout in Pakistan where Osama Bin Laden was shot dead was a carefully worded 21-page letter.
It warned of the rise of a new and ruthless group of Islamic extremists capable of such extreme brutality that Al Qaeda should sever all links with them.
In fact, it claimed the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or ISIS) had such complete disregard for civilian life that it could damage the reputation of Al Qaeda – if such a thing were possible for an organisation that has long traded in murderous terrorism…
Over the more than month long Operation Protective Edge conflict between Hamas terrorists and the IDF, a strikingly few number of civilian casualties have been suffered on the Israeli side.
Over 3,356 rockets have been fired at Israel, with that number rising everyday, and only four people have been killed as a result of rocket fire. While Israel’s Iron Dome is a wonder to behold and responsible for maintaining the safety of Israeli civilians from rocket fire, the numbers show that only 578 rockets were destroyed by Iron Dome Interceptions, or roughly 17 percent of all rockets fired at Israel.
Simple statistics show that there is something extraordinary occurring here.
Whether one chooses to believe that providence is behind the overwhelming number of misfired rockets or not, one must admit that the number of casualties should in theory be higher. After all, Hamas is quite experienced when it comes to rocket fire at Israel, having more than 14 years of experience.
Combine the above observation with the somewhat historical and biblical outlook of the Israeli public and military, and one is bound to come away with a viewpoint that at the very least recognizes the possibility of divine protection or intervention, thus setting the stage for the myriad of ‘bonafide’ stories telling of divine intervention sprouting forth like wildfire on social media networks in Israel…