Posts Tagged ‘Holy Land’

Christianity A History: The Crusades

November 24, 2011

An accursed race. A race absolutely alien to God has invaded the land of Christians. — Pope Urban II, 1095 AD

Holy men do not posses those cities, nay base and bastard Turks hold sway over our brothers. — Pope Urban II, 1095 AD

Pope Urban II launched the Crusades with a speech in the French town of Clermont Ferrand. The Christians of Europe were to go to the occupied lands, seize them back and kill any Muslims they found there. It was to be a Holy War. The Knights were offered salvation through slaughter.

Chroniclers of the Crusades were chronicling God’s work, a continuation of God’s work as recorded in the Bible. Jerusalem had to be cleansed of Muslim pollution

To the West, the Crusades are history. Islamists believe they are still fighting the Crusades today.

Alexandria Declaration

November 22, 2010
Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God. - Matthew V

Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God. - Matthew V

In the Name of God who is Almighty, Merciful and Compassionate, we, who have gathered as religious leaders from the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities, pray for true peace in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and declare our commitment to ending the violence and bloodshed.that denies the right to life and dignity

According to our faith traditions, killing innocents in the name of God is a desecration of his Holy Name, and defames religion in the world. The violence in the Holy Land is an evil which must be opposed by all people of good faith. We seek to live together as neighbours, respecting the integrity of each other’s historical and religious inheritance. We call upon all to oppose incitement, hatred and the misrepresentation of the other.

1. The Holy Land is Holy to all three of our faiths. Therefore, followers of the divine religion must respect its sanctity, and bloodshed must not be allowed to pollute it. The sanctity and integrity of the Holy Places must be preserved, and freedom of religious worship must be ensured for all.

2. Palestinians and Israelis must respect the divinely ordained purposes of the Creator by whose grace they live in the same land that is called Holy.

3. We call on the political leaders of both peoples to work for a just, secure and durable solution in the spirit of the words of the Almighty and the Prophets.

4. As a first step now, we call for a religiously sanctioned cease-fire, respected and observed on all sides, and for the implementation of the Mitchell and Tenet recommendations, including the lifting of restrictions and a return to negotiations.

5. We seek to help create an atmosphere where present and future generations will co-exist with mutual respect and trust in the other. We call on all to refrain from incitement and demonization, and to educate our future generations accordingly.

6. As religious leaders, we pledge ourselves to continue a joint quest for a just peace that leads to reconciliation in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, for the common good of all our peoples.

7. We announce the establishment of a permanent joint committee to carry out the recommendations of this declaration, and to engage with our respective political leadership accordingly.

The Alexandria Declaration was a process set in play by Canon Andrew White, aka the Vicar of Baghdad, at the height of the second intifada to bring together all the religious leaders in the Holy Land, or as he calls it the Land of the Holy One. It culminated in a meeting chaired by George Carey (then Archbishop of Canterbury, who described it later in Know the Truth as the most difficult meeting he had ever chaired) and culminated in the signing of an historic agreement renouncing violence in the Middle East. Widely reported by the Middle East media, but virtually ignored in the West. Canon Andrew White describes the background in his excellent book The Vicar of Baghdad.

It is sad, as Canon Andrew White notes, that there are those who wrongly use Scripture to justify what is happening. I have had personal experience of this over the last few days.

For those who seek to demonise Hamas (and less we forget they were democratically elected in Gaza) one of the signatories to the Alexandria Declaration was the late Sheikh Talal Sidr, one of the founders of Hamas.

A year later, the Coventry International Prize for Peace and Reconciliation was awarded in the old medieval Coventry Cathedral to Rabbi Michael Melchior, Patriarch Michel Sabbah and Sheikh Talal Sidr. The following day, at a dinner in London before a follow up meeting with Archbishop George Carey, a journalist shouted in Arabic at Sheikh Talal Sidr ‘How can you sit with this evil Zionist?’ The sheikh paused, then picking up the hand of the Rabbi, answered ‘This is my brother and we will walk along the difficult path of reconciliation together until we find peace. When someone else shouted out ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ Shekh Talal replied ‘I am pulling up thorns and planting flowers?’

There is still a long way to go. One of the projects established has been the Israeli and Palestinian Institute for Peace, with centres in Gaza, Jerusalem and in the north of Israel at Kafr Kassem where in 1956 Jewish border police shot dead 49 Israeli Arabs including 11 children.

The Alexandria Declaration was signed in Egypt January 2002.

Also see

The Vicar of Baghdad

The First Alexandria Declaration of the Religious Leaders of the Holy Land

The Alexandria Process

Israeli Apartheid – A talk by Ben White

Can religious leaders play a constructive role?

Palestine is still the Issue