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

Theology and the Local Church in the Holy Land Conference

(Palestinian Contextual Theology Conference)
23rd Session

“The Church of the Arab East Facing the Takfiri Ideology

18-20 December 2015
Manger Square Hotel - Bethlehem

Photo album
Conference Program

The Conference opened on Friday the 18th with the prayers and welcoming remarks by H. E. Bishop Atallah Hanna, Fr. Dr. Fawzi Khoury and Dr. Geries S. Khoury. The three speeches were centered on the challenges which are facing the inhabitants of the Arab east in general and the Christians in particular.  The conference was attended by tens of leading personalities, educators, community leaders and distinguished leaders from Galilee, and all West Bank Governorates. Among the attendees was H. B. Patriarch Michael Sabbah, President of Al-Liqa’s Board of Trustees, Bishop Maroun Lahham, Fr. Dr. Rafiq Khoury and other nuns and priests. Fellow Muslim educators and community leaders attended this gathering as well.


The first lecture which was moderated by Mr. Saliba Al-Taweel was titled: “What do we mean by Takfiri ideology”. Fr. Dr. Jamal Khader presented the lecture. The lecture was followed by a coffee break and a program focusing on Christmas celebration.


The second day, on Saturday the 19th and following breakfast, proceedings of the conference began with prayers and meditation as well as personal observations by Father Abdallah Julio Brunella.

The first lecture of the day which was moderated by Mr. Zoughbi Zoughbi focused on “Takfiri ideology in Christianity: Christian Zionism and the likes.” H. E. Bishop Maroun Lahham lectured on this subject.

Following a coffee break, a lecture focusing on “Takfiri Ideology in Islam” by Dr. Fawzi Barakat Al-Qasrawi was moderated by Ms. Makarem ‘Awad. A lunch break followed.

In late afternoon proceedings continued with a panel titled “How do we face together the Takfiri Ideology” by panelists Sheikh Zuheir Al-Dib’i who presented an Islamic view while Dr. Geries S. Khoury presented a Christian view. The panel was moderated by Mrs. Sima Ghawali. The last lecture of the second was day by H. B. Patriarch Michael Sabbah on “The Risks of Takfiri movements on Christian identity and on their options and presence.” Ms. Attorney Ibtisam Mu’allem moderated the lecture.

Following dinner an entertaining evening took place comprised stories, popular poetry and poems. Participants included Mrs. Nuha Qa’war, Mr. ‘Atallah Jaber and Nagham Qa’war who read a Christmas poem by her late father and friend of Al-Liqa’, Dr. Jamal Qa’war.

Following breakfast on the third day of the conference on Sunday 20th December, proceedings began with prayers, meditation and Christmas carols by Ms. Taghreed Qa’war. A panel followed titled “The role of the church in light of challenges of the Takfiri ideology.” Panelists included Fr. Dr. Iyad Twal, Dr. Munthir Ishaq and Dr. Johnny Mansour. Mrs. Sawsan Al-Shomali moderated the panel.


Following a coffee break an open session was held titled “How can we immunize ourselves and our societies from the Takfiri ideology.” This open session was moderated by Mr. Yousef Matar.

It should be noted that following each lecture and panel lively discussions and a question and an answer session took place. There is no doubt that these enriched extensively the proceedings of the conference.

Following the open session Dr. Geries S. Khoury summarized the proceedings of the conference and thanked Al-Liqa’s Board of Trustees for its support and thanked as well all journalists and international media which covered the proceedings.

Dr. Khoury then read the final communique of the conference:

1)      Conferees strongly protest and condemn the continued Israeli occupation and aggression against Holy Places in Palestine as well as the assassination of young people who resist occupation. Conferees ask the international community to condemn Israeli occupation and to work toward the realization of Palestinian quest for independence.

2)      No person has the right “to accuse others of unbelief” regardless of differences in dogma. For God alone is the one who can identify and pass judgments on his creatures. He is the only One who can judge others.

3)      Conferees demand that officials in religious schools supervise curricula and teaching methods in the Shari’ah and theological schools in order to graduate mosque speakers and church leaders who know and espouse the true dogmas, and in order that religion is not exploited for an exclusive politics and discourse but for teaching the essence of religion which calls for the service of man and the respect to his freedoms and rights.

4)      Christian – Muslim societies represented in the past the unity of the Palestinian people. Conferees demand the formation of such societies in all Palestinian towns and cities in order to proliferate a discourse which unites society and contributes toward awareness in our society of Islam and Christianity.

5)      The need to weaken the Takfiri ideology through successful solutions including the re-examination of educational curricula, religious discourse, religious freedom, democracy and participation in public life.

6)      Conferees reiterate their strong belief in our Arab unity which is based on our unity of faith, Christians and Muslims, in one God and one nation. And in order to be united in the face of external storms for terrorist Takfiri ideology can be defeated by our unity.

7)      Al-Liqa’s message and Al-Liqa’s conferences, especially this one, revolve around the dangers of Takfiri ideology on our Christian identity, our daily life, our homes, schools, universities, social Medias, offices, factories, etc. The message of Al-Liqa’ and its conferences are open minded participating and calling for dignified living. This way everyone is reforming oneself with the task to reform others.

8)      Conferees are unanimous in their total rejection of extremism which finds its fertile ground in the explanation or exegesis and not in the Holy texts. It is wrong to keep reiterating what the West and imperialism taught us such as “Islamic Terror,” “Jewish Terror,” or “Christian Terror.” Religions do not call for terrorism or violence. There are those who interpret things according to their own agenda and call for terrorism under the disguise of religion.  


Bethlehem, 20 December 2015