(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/23/14) – A group of American Muslim and Christian organizations today announced the formation of an interfaith coalition to protect Christians and other religious minorities in Arab countries and to promote peaceful coexistence.

Leaders of major Muslim and Christian organizations, religious leaders and activists met earlier this week in Washington, D.C., at the invitation of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation whose mission is to maintain and support the presence of Christians in the Holy Land.

Discussions at that meeting resulted in the creation of the coalition to achieve the long-term goal of defending and protecting indigenous Christians and other religious minorities in Arab countries by restoring the historical coexistence of Muslim and Christians and preserving the presence of Christians and other religious groups as part of the fabric of Arab and Muslim civilization.

The coalition will work with all concerned organizations and individuals around the world to challenge stereotypes of Arabs of all backgrounds and to show that Christians and Muslims are united in working toward the common goals of peace and justice.

Coalition members say they will hold two conferences; one in early 2015 in Washington, D.C., followed by a second conference in an Arab country. 

The coalition’s leadership committee includes the Very Reverend Joseph Rahal, pastor of the St. George Orthodox Church, the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese; Syed Moktadir, president, All Dulles Area Muslim Society; Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the Office of Interfaith & Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Nihad Awad, national executive director, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); Bassel Korkor, Esq., legal officer, Syrian Christians for Peace; Haris Tarin, director  of the Washington, D.C., office, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); Salam Al Marayati, president, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); and Kamal Nawash, Esq., president, Free Muslims Coalition.

The committee elected Sir Rateb Y. Rabie, president/CEO of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, as chair.

The coalition is open to any organizations, leaders and religious institutions committed to its mission.

Also in attendance at the formation of the coalition were His Excellency Archbishop Atallah Hanna, Archbishop of Sebastia, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem; His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Eastern Diocese, the Armenian Church of America (Eastern); Aram Suren Hamparian, executive director, the Armenian National Committee of America; Majd Akkawi, Youth Director, Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church; Khaled Elgindy; and Samer Anabtawi.

The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation is very excited to be given the honor of leading the effort to have Christians and Muslims work for peace, justice and the common good.

For more information please contact Sir Rateb Rabie at or by phone at 301-951-9400 extension 212.