Church representatives, Muslim leaders and parliamentarians call for an end to violence against minorities
Chaldean Mass at Saint Eddie Church in Mosul, Iraq on Dec. 7, 2018. (Photo by Ammar Salih/EPA/MaxPPP)
Religious leaders took over from politicians in the meeting chamber of the Ile de France Regional Council in Paris early on the morning of Dec. 11.
Maronites, Syrian Orthodox, Chaldeans, Druze, Armenians, Shiites, Sunni and Evangelicals filled the seats of the “Simone Veil” council chamber in Paris’ 7th District.
A total of 20 Christian and Muslim religious dignitaries – along with several political representatives, magistrates and NGO leaders – had arrived to take part in a Paris International Conference organized by the Coordination of Christians of the Orient in Danger (CHREDO).
“(This day) is a significant moment, a turning point in the solidarity between religions and our determination to combat extremists,” emphasized CHREDO president, Patrick Karam, in his opening address, highlighting the “unprecedented” nature of such an interreligious meeting in Europe.
“This is the first time that Christian and Muslim religious have come together to unambiguously condemn the terrorist actions of organizations such as ISIS as contrary to Islam and as crimes against humanity,” he explained, pointing to the “haemorrhage phenomenon” affecting the Christian populations of the Near and Middle East.
Backed by Valérie Pécresse, president of the Ile de France Regional Council and a former co-president of the Study Group on Oriental Christians in the French National Assembly, the conference focused on linkages between the religious and political fields.
It had three objectives. The first was to demonstrate interreligious unity via a common declaration calling for “an end to violence perpetrated against Christians and other minorities, including Yezidis.”
The second was to have the offenses perpetrated against them recognized “by national and international legal authorities as crimes against humanity.”
The third objective was to reflect on the conditions necessary for refugees to return to their countries of origin.
Eastern religious leaders took turns to address the meeting throughout the morning.
“Religion never desires the death of human beings,” said Doctor Abdel Meneem Fouad, Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Sciences at the University of Al Azhar. “We reject everything that ISIS has tried to build. True religion calls for peace and living together.”
Representing Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, Bishop Angelos called for “a renewal of religious thought to develop values of tolerance and peace.”
“We need help in action not in words!” said Archbishop Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Mosul.
“We Christians of the East are suffering from marginalization,” he added. “This conference is important because it allows us to communicate our suffering to the world.”
Paris International Proclamation
In a highlight of the event, Karam read out the “Paris International Proclamation” condemning discrimination and violence against Christians and other minorities of the East, including Yezidis.
Dozens of religious leaders present helped rework and signed the final document.
“The signatories unambiguously affirm the inalienable right of Christians of the Orient as well as Yezidis and persecuted minorities, who represent the most ancient peoples of the region, to remain and live on their land in dignity and security without experiencing discrimination and to practice their faith in complete freedom. The future of the region depends on it,” the document stated.
Condemning all “past and future terrorist acts which constitute crimes against humanity” against minorities, the proclamation called on “the international community to avoid contributing to confusion between these terrorist groups and Islam.”
By: Malo Tresca
Source: la Croix.