Join in Solidarity With Those in Need
Our Call to Action
Christians and other indigenous religious minorities are an integral part of the Middle East. In Palestine, for example, Christian Arabs have, for many centuries, shared a common culture and civilization with their neighbors. Their religious identity dates from the birth of the Christian church in Jerusalem, and six hundred years later, the Christian population of the Holy Land developed harmonious relationships with the then-new Muslim believers dwelling in the land.
Historically, Arab and Middle Eastern Christians have coexisted peacefully with their Muslim neighbors and fellow citizens. Their common lives were built on a rich blend of Christian and Muslim practices. Additionally, these two Abrahamic faiths are compatible and anchored in similar foundations of respecting human dignity, caring for each other, and calling followers to love their neighbors. We witness this congruence in the interfaith community of Palestine where Christians and Muslims coexist in solidarity, aiding and protecting one another despite differences in creed.
Tolerant Muslims—who make up the vast majority in the Middle East—are standing together with Arab and Middle Eastern Christians against discrimination, persecution, and violence. Unfortunately, many in the West have wrongly associated the Middle East particularly and the Muslim world in general with religious extremism. “Islamists,” as they are called, have hijacked Islam for their own political desires, convincing some that Muslims should commit violence against others while promoting oppressive and exclusivist ideologies. This contradicts a long history of Muslim tolerance and promotion of pluralism. As the Qur’an (2:256) instructs:
“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And God heareth and knoweth all things!”
Arab Christians living in the Middle East, as members of non-militarized and non-partisan civilian communities, pose no threat to any community or government. Furthermore, they are a key bridge for positive East-West relations. Over the decades, they have been proactive in building interfaith tolerance and in educating Western Christians about the real Islam, distinguishing faithful people of good will from extremists. They have argued that the ideological and political factors that have disrupted religious coexistence throughout the world are not the norm, but rather a divergence from the truth. The extremist violence committed against Muslims by European Christian Crusaders in medieval times was not a reflection of true Christianity and cannot be connected with Arab Christians.
Moreover, Christians and Muslims are in agreement on the centrality of Jerusalem to the three monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For them, the Holy City has a universal character. Her presence and appeal are essential for peace and reconciliation in the world. Her soul and spirit embrace all peoples, equally.
Correspondingly, Jerusalem’s inhabitants deserve a dignified life and equal access to their daily necessities, including housing, jobs, education, medical care, municipal services, cultural activities, and religious sites. They are entitled to legal protection and equality before the law as well as to their inherent civil liberties and political rights.
Therefore, Christians and Muslims are strongly advised to come together in order to advance coexistence and peace. They must promote their shared values by combating Islamophobia, showing the West that religious extremists are a very tiny minority that does not represent the majority of peaceful Muslims. Christian and Muslims must band together in defense of Christians and other religious minorities who are subject to extremist violence and oppression and who are denied their legal rights and due process under the law. Moreover, Christians and Muslims are asked to stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, Palestine, and the rest of the Holy Land.
We have a sacred trust. We have significant responsibilities. We extend an open invitation to all people of goodwill to join us in this call to action.
As Muslims and Christians, we commit ourselves to putting our faith into action by continuing to promote peaceful coexistence and to support our shared values and our people.
Sir. Rateb Rabie, KCHS
Coalition Chair, President and CEO, Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF)
Coalition Vice Chair,
President, All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS)
His Excellency Bishop Barry C. Knestout
Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington
Dr. Sayyid Syeed
National Director of the Office of Interfaith & Community Alliances Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
Very Rev. Isaac Crow
Pastor Ss. Peter & Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church
Imam Mohamed Magid
All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS)
Reverend Drew Christiansen, S.J.
Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Global Development, Georgetown University, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs
President, The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
Reverend Hovsep Karapetyan
Pastor, St Mary’s Armenian Church
Rev. Charles Cortinovis
Executive Director, Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious
Affairs for the Archdiocese of Washington
Dr. Ramsay F. Dass, MD
President, American Middle East Christains Congress
Dr. Hanna Hanania, D.D.S.
Board of Directors, HCEF
We recognize that both the current conflicts and the potential for future suffering can only be addressed through more systematic, and long-term efforts. Therefore, to achieve our mission, we set the following goals:
Reclaiming the legitimate Muslim voice to defend Christians – Muslims within this coalition recognize that Islam is being misconstrued by the few extremists to justify their dastardly acts. We feel an even stronger call to action than our Christian brothers and sisters to remain steadfast in challenging extremist actions committed in our name, such as the persecution of our Arab and Middle Eastern Christians.
Amplify the Voice of Victims – Those who have survived persecution need to share their stories for so many reasons. To deal with their grief, inform the West and motivate people of goodwill to become more engaged in resolving the current crisis.
Offer Financial/Material Relief – The losses that persecuted Arab Christians and Arab Muslims have endured are catastrophic. We commit to providing financial and material support to individuals and communities that have lost loved ones (e.g., breadwinners) or their homes and now require their basic needs to be fulfilled as a result of their tragedies.
Provide and Share Models of Hope – Despite the tragic repercussions of extremists, there are visible beacons of hope, such as Muslim communities helping persecuted Christians, and Christian-Muslim solidarity in Palestine. By providing a spotlight on these models, we hope to embolden and encourage others to replicate these efforts and help existing efforts gain valuable resources (both financial and human) to expand their good works.
Develop Grassroots (People to People) Relationships – Both Christian and Muslim leaders recognize that “the Church” and “the Umma” are not buildings or ideas. They are people. It is not enough merely for religious scholars and leaders to make statements, but rather we commit ourselves to create opportunities for the treasures of our faith, all worshippers, to have mechanisms to also become actively engaged in this campaign in the form of a grassroots movement.
Ensure Resiliency – While the persecution of Christian citizens has produced a crisis situation in a number of regions, once the crisis is addressed, it will be important to further coexistence by planting the seeds of peace within the youth to ensure that this never happens again.
Stand in Solidarity with the Palestinian People – Palestinians—Christians and Muslims alike—have been toiling under the tough conditions of the Israeli occupation and the divisions in Palestinian society for decades. It is essential not to abandon them but to lend them moral, financial, and other forms of assistance that will enable them to overcome adversity and actualize their dream of freedom and independence.
Preserve Jerusalem’s inclusivity – Mobilize Christians, Muslims, Jews, and others to advocate for upholding Jerusalem’s religious Status Quo and for maintaining her as the inclusive center of faith.
Honor our Creator – We must never forget that both of our Faiths are centered on our Creator. We commit to keeping His Will in all our actions knowing that doing so is the best witness to His Mercy and Grace and in itself will serve as the differentiation from those that have hijacked His Name against the Common Good.
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The MCC is an Initiative by
The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation