Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) President and CEO Sir Rateb Rabie, KCHS was invited to participate in the "The Arab Awakening and Peace in the Middle East: Muslim and Christian Perspectives" 2 day Conference held in Istanbul, Turkey, September 7-8, 2012.
The Conference brought together religious leaders and experts from Arab countries, the Middle East and Turkey to find answers to urgent questions arising from the rapidly evolving situation in the Middle East.
Muslim and Christian leaders, academicians and experts focused on Muslim-Christian relations in the context of the "Arab Spring," the roles and responsibilities of the Muslim and Christian communities, and the specific social, political economic and international issues facing the Muslims and Christians in the Middle East and North Africa.
HE Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister, Turkey gave the opening welcome with a message of unity, coexistence, and understanding of each other as we are brothers in faith under one God.
During a private audience with His Excellency Prof. Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, the current crisis in Syria was discussed. Sir Rabie expressed his pleasure at the efforts made to create support for the Syrian people and build dialogue about these very important issues, especially how all Syrians, specifically the Christians, can be helped and protected.
Other distinguished leaders in attendance include; HE III Theofilos, Patriarch of the Christian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, Rev. Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., Secretary, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, The Vatican, Bishop Anba Yohanna Qulta, Patriarchal Vicar, Coptic Catholic Church, Egypt, HE Prof. Mehmet Görmez, President of Religious Affairs, Turkey, HE Patriarch Bartholomew 1, Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Turkey; HE Acting Patriarch Anbe Bakhumyus, Egyptian Coptic Church, Egypt; Theofilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem, HE Amine Gemayel, Leader of Kataeb Party, Lebanon former President, Dr. John Esposito, Professor, Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University, Archbishop Nurhan Manaougian, Patriarchal Vicar of the Armenian Orthodox Church, Rev. Dr. Munib A. Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church/President of the World Lutheran Federation, Dr. Ziyad Bandak, Advisor to President Abbas on Christian Affairs and many more.
Conference sessions and workshop discussions focused on topics such as 'What is the place of the ancient religious traditions of the region in the new Middle East'; 'How can the centuries-long experience of co-existence and religious pluralism contribute to the establishment of a fair and peaceful order in the region'; 'What kind of a role can Muslim and Christian communities and their spiritual leaders play to turn threats into opportunities?', and "Religious Pluralism and the Culture of Co-existence in the Middle East," to name just a few.
Sir Rateb commended the Turkish government for its efforts in promoting dialogue for Muslim-Christian Understanding. "This conference was indeed quite impressive as Turkey is setting the example as a positive role model in promoting peaceful coexistence, civil government, and effective separation of religion and government," he said.