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Al-Liqa’ Center for Religious and Heritage Studies in the Holy Land

The Arab Christian and Muslim Heritage Conference in the Holy Land

Christian – Muslim Dialogue Conference
27th Session

Title

“Challenges facing Muslims and Christians in Light of Present Developments”

17-19 September 2015
Bethlehem Hotel - Bethlehem

Photo album
Conference Program

First day of the conference, Thursday 17 September 2015 at 16:00, began with welcoming remarks and speeches by H. E. Bishop William Shomali, the honorable Mufti of Bethlehem Governorate, Sheikh ‘Abd Al-Majeed ‘Ata, and the Director of Al-Liqa’ Dr. Geries S. Khoury who presented a keynote speech. He pointed out the difficult situation of refugees to Europe, the wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya and pressing situation in Palestine. The opening session was moderated by Mr. Mousa Darwish of Al-Liqa’.

This year’s conference was attended by more than 250 Palestinian Arabs, Christians and Muslims, clerics and secular, academicians, community leaders and many others from throughout Palestine and the Holy Land.

The first lecture was moderated by Dr. Lina Khamis, a lecturer at Bethlehem University, titled: “The Arab Regimes and their Role in What is Happening Today,” by Dr. Muhammad Farhat of Jerusalem Open University, who stressed the many factors which make a nation and its policies. As a result Arab regimes produce extremism and terror due to these many factors.

The second lecture was moderated by Mr. Elias Makhoul of Galilee, titled: “The Present Situation and its impact on pluralism and shared living in the Nation,” by Dr. Ra’ed Nu’yrat of An-Najah University of Nablus. He focused on three factors: the time factor, the transformation that is taking place, and the present circumstances of each country.

Following the two lectures and a detailed question and answer session and personal commentaries by attendees, a coffee break took place. It was followed by a Literary Evening: Absent Present… the late Dr. Prof. ‘Abd Al-Rahman ‘Abbad, member of Al-Liqa’ Board of Trustees. The evening was moderated by the teacher and friend of Prof ‘Abbad Mr. Mousa Darwish, deputy director of Al-Liqa and Attorney ‘Ali Rafi’ who focused on the life of Prof. ‘Abbad and his writings, especially his important book which was published by al-Liqa on “Dialogue in Islam”, while Dr. Geries S. Khoury spoke of his experience with the late Prof. ‘Abbad and about his friendship. The eldest son of Prof. ‘Abbad spoke and thanked Al-Liqa’ for the event. Al-Liqa’s Board members presented the family with a shield to commemorate Prof. ‘Abbad.

The first day’s event was concluded with a dinner.

The second day, Friday 18 September 2015, began at 9:00 with prayer and meditation by H. E. Bishop Butros Mu’allem of Galilee,  and was followed by a lecture which was moderated by Dr. Adnan Musallam of Bethlehem University titled “World Policies and their Role in the Worsening Explosive Situations,” by Mr. Hani Al-Masri of Masarat Center, Ramallah. Mr. Al-Masri focused on the current situation and dilemma in the Palestinian problem. A point of view contributes everything to external factors and conspiracies while the other focuses on the internal factors as the primary factors while external factors are secondary. Following a question and answer session and commentaries, the session was concluded at 11:30 a.m. so Muslims can participate in Friday prayer.

Following a lunch and a short break, the second session of the day started at 4:00 p.m. with a lecture by Prof. Thiab ‘Ayyoush titled, “The Impact of World Policies on the Palestinian Problem”, which was introduced and moderated by Doctor Peter Qumri of Al-Liqa’ Board. Prof. ‘Ayyoush focused on historical factors including the clear partisanship of the United States to Israel and non-democratic Arab regimes.

   

The last lecture of the second day was presented by Dr. Hanna ‘Issa of Jerusalem University titled “The Phenomenon of Extremism and its Reflection on the Arab Nation,” which was moderated by Attorney Victor Matar from Haifa. Dr. ‘Issa contributed extremism to economic social, political, cultural and ideological factors.

Following a detailed question and answer session and commentaries on the two lectures, the evening was concluded. The dinner was held at Al-Qal’ah Restaurant in Beit Sahour.

The Third day of the conference, Saturday 19 September 2015, began at 9:30 with prayer and meditation by Sheikh Zuheir al- Dib’i of Nablus. This was followed by a panel titled, “The Impact of Extremism on Heavenly Religion and Human Civilization,” by panelists Honorable Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Al-Haj Muhammad, Mufti of Nablus and Prof. Marwan Abu Khalaf of Birzeit University. The panel was moderated by Mrs. Hanadi Soudah Younan, the Dean of Arts at Bethlehem University. Extremism, according to Sheikh Dr. Al-Haj, is distorting Islam in the minds of Muslims, non-Muslims and world opinion.

Prof. Abu Khalaf focused on the extremists and terrorists’ destruction of world heritage in Iraq and Syria.

An extensive question and answer session as well as commentaries by invitees followed.

The last session of the conference was concluded with a panel titled, “Toward a Strategy in Comprehensive Treating the Worries of Muslims and Christians in the Arab Nation.” The panelists were Dr. As’ad ‘Abd Al-Rahman, Dr. Iyad Al-Barghouthi and Mr. Ziad Shleweit. The panel was moderated by lecturer at Bethlehem University, Dr. ‘Omar ‘Abed Rabbo.

Dr. As’ad ‘Abd Al-Rahman , Executive Chairman of the “Palestinian International Institute” and a noted author, stressed the dire need for citizenship (Al-Muwatana), civil society, secularism, the modernization of the curriculum and the modern mass media and communication.

Dr. Iyad Al-Barghouthi, a lecturer at Birzeit University and Director of Ramallah’s Center for the Study of Human Rights and editor of Al-Tasamuh, stressed the need for equality of all citizens which is not based on sectarianism, minority and majority.

   

Mr. Ziad Shleweit of Shafa ‘Amr city in Galilee, he is a retired teacher and a journalist stressed President ‘Abd Al-Nasser’s model of Arabism for our days in order to solve present problems. This panel was followed by detailed question and an answer session and commentaries.

After the last panel, Dr. Khoury summarized briefly the three days conference and thanked all participants and lecturers for their important research work and active participation in the three days conference. He thanked also the secretaries of al-Liqa and assistants for their work and help.

The conference was concluded with a final communiqué which was discussed and approved by attendees: (See the complete statement on Al-Liqa’s website)

1)     The reiteration of the Arabism of Jerusalem and its central role for Muslims and Christians and the total rejection of the Judaization of the city and its claims.

2)     The dire need of national unity which is the rock on which all conspiracies are broken to pieces.

3)     The dire need to stress and deepen the values of citizenship and total equality in rights and duties.

4)     Conferees reject the racial attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque and demand all Arab and Muslim peoples throughout the world to come to the aid of Jerusalem. Likewise, conferees protest the aggression against churches and Christian holy places as well all attempts to prevent faithfuls from reaching their churches and mosques.

5)     Conferees support the demands of private Christian schools in their stand against Israeli government and Ministry of Education.

6)     Our role is not to fight extremism the same way. We need objective, scientific ways that are called for by Heavenly religions and human and spiritual values as well as pluralism and human dignity. There is a dire need to modernize the curriculum and to spread the culture of tolerance and shared living.

Conferees stress the need for religious education for all students. Christians can learn about Islam and Muslims can learn about Christians.

 

Links related to the Heritage conference