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Al-Liqa Center

About Which Future Are Christians Looking For?

Dr. Geries Sa’ad Khoury

 

  • Permit me if I said in utter frankness that I am not a member in the choir of those who are worried about the future of Arab Christians. This is so because I believe that the mere positing of such questions may cause in one form or another deepening the divisions in the one society and among the citizens of the one people. I ask: Is my future different from the future of the Muslim? Does my obtaining a job, a house and all the requirements and luxuries which I need provide me with comfort and security if my Muslim neighbor or Muslim citizens suffer from injustice, unemployment, poverty and instability? What is the mission of this Christian? And what is his Christianity? Such thinking is remote from and contradicts our message and our faith. The one who seeks to find future solutions for the Christians will certainly fail and will cause more trouble for them. This does not mean that we remain silent if we are deprived of freedom to worship or if we are treated as second-class citizens or if our rights are diminished. In such case, we have to demand our rights from the relevant authorities without fear or dread and we have to work with our Muslim brothers to demand the legislation of laws which guarantee the right, freedom and rights of all citizens and their complete equality. Then we can with great confidence lay the foundations for one living for one people and in one state which guards the dignity of its citizens, and works with them to develop the common human areas on the basis of human dignity. Therefore I believe that there will be no  future for neither the Muslims nor the Christians unless they work together with truth for the sake of one future for them and for the sake of living in freedom and with dignity.
  • Many consider that the Christian existence is necessary for the Arab homeland. Everyone justifies his saying or his position according to his vision and his considerations. There are those who consider the Arab Christians as a bridge between the Muslims and the West. This saying is insufficient and is not successful. I am sure of the good intentions of those who say it. However, I see that its negative aspects are much more than its positive aspects. We do not want to be bridges only, but rather pillars in the one homeland. Together we build communication bridges with the West or with any state or people with whom we see the deepening of our relations as good for us and for our countries. Of course, each citizen has his role, and any role which pours in the interest of the homeland and the citizens is the required and due participation on the part of each one of us. If the role which is required of the Christian Arabs is contribution in building trust among countries and peoples, then it is a national role par excellence.
  • Here God willed for us to live. Here the fathers and grandfathers lived, tens and hundreds of the church fathers, the saints who lived here and around the Nativity of Christ. They were the ones who enriched the church with their thinking, strengthened it with their prayers and defined its faith identity. With them there are many men of letters who contributed in preserving it after the emergence of the new religion, that is, Islam. They accepted it, lived with it and opened the doors of their schools to Muslims seeking education. They translated for them the wisdom and practical sciences of the Greeks from Greek, Syriac and Coptic languages into Arabic. They also wrote many books in several domains, in medicine and philosophy with its diverse sciences and in theology and holy books. They explained the ancient philosophical books and added to them. They did not miss the crack in the church and the disagreements which existed in it. They were interested in focusing on the importance of its unity. I believe that much of their ecumenical theology is still a base for ecumenical dialogue without its being known or acquainted to those who are engaging in dialogue these days. No less important is dialogue and theology thinking which is rich, deep and free with Muslim learned men and Caliphs and with a number of Jews. They engaged in dialogue with openness. They listened quietly. They answered tens of queries with wisdom, with deliberation, with seeds of a strong faith, and with great knowledge which made their self-confidence great, and with it they faced difficulties and challenges when they surfaced, with calmness.
    They sometimes did not fear to express their apprehensions and to discuss them with the learned men and the Caliphs. There are many examples of this. The saying of the prophet Isaiah applies on them, that is: “In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30: 15). They contributed, participated and together built a history, a civilization, a thought and a state. This active contribution is still in our days and in all the domains.
  • Today I say with great grief and a heart-wrenching pain that the glory which we built together in our East, today gangs and groups of villains and mobs are destroying what we built together throughout many centuries. They are burning a time – honored heritage, removing and effacing its historical landmarks, uprooting the Arab identity and destroying the homeland and killing the others with bestiality, savagery and in hideous ways from which the smell of hatred and the poisons of Puritanism (the non-religious), rather a barbarian, savage and bestial puritanism are emitted. Religion commands neither killing nor hating the other nor treating him except with what is better. Those mobs are traders in religion. They do not know God and they do not hear His voice. Rather they are the slaves of those who send them, finance them, supply them with weapons and encourage them to do such practices and aggressions against the dignity and freedom of man, and to abuse the sanctity of places of worship that is God’s homes, and to desecrate them, explode them and commit aggression against Christian clergymen and even against Muslim clergymen and to trespass the sanctity of monasteries and kidnapping clergymen, monks and nuns who are not guilty except that they serve the needy, the poor and the simple people. What happened and is happening in Ma’loula for example and not exclusively is the biggest evidence of this savagery and barbarism.
  • Let it be clear that the one who finances and provides weapons claims that he is a Muslim or a Christian. They really have no relationship with religion and with human dignity. Rather they are in their thrones, their kingdoms and the petrol of our Arab homeland with the price of which we are crucified every day and we are slaughtered like sheep. As a Palestinian Arab Christian, I do not begin by blaming those mobs who kill and destroy in Syria or in Egypt or in any other country. My first and biggest blame is on Western countries which claim to be Christian and they finance, provide weapons and support with all means these killers, villains and savage gangs who know neither values or ethics. They are closer to fierce animals which are afflicted with the disease of rabies than being close to man and human societies.
  • What is the most hideous of all of this is the daily flattery of each of us for the other. What is the most difficult is adulation for the majority of the Western and Arab regimes which finance and provide weapons. This is when they interfere for example to free the kidnapped from captivity be they Muslims or Christians. We all know that for example and not exclusively that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are two of the biggest Arab countries which finance and support the hired villains and highway men such as “the Front for Supporting Islam”, “Al-Qa’ida,” “Da’ish”, “Nusrat al-Islam”, the group of “The Islamic State of Iraq,” and otherkilling and terrorism groups. All appeal for the help of them and gasp after them to interfere and to liberate the kidnapped. If something is done after kissing their hands which are tarnished by blood day and night, thanks begin for them and for their employers in the West. The question is: What is the difference between those who finance, encourage and plan and the villains who execute such acts? There is no difference between them, and if this is the case, then why do we deal in this way with these countries and these policies which encourage terrorism and violence? And how do these matters agree with those who call for fighting terrorism and violence? And until when will our silence continue concerning the double standards and accepting these sedatives and these poisons? I believe that the alternative for all honest persons is boycotting these Arab and Western countries which finance the destruction and terrorism groups or openly holding them to account, rebuking them and demanding that they desist from continuously using the money of the petroleum of the Arabs to burn the natives of the Arab nation. The alternative should also be in using this money for education and raising the awareness for values, ethics, rights, equality among citizens and for the sake of a religious discourse which gathers and does not disperse and which consolidates relations of amicability and respect among the citizens instead of firmly establishing hatred, blind fanaticism and hateful Puritanism. Why we do not frankly tell Western political officials to stop slighting our minds and that their cheap policies have become uncovered for the young and the old among us. Of course, such policies increase disagreements and rancor and will not benefit anyone. They should be replaced by policies to restore building confidence among us and policies which remove injustice from the wronged ones, give all their rights and freedom and provide them with living in dignity.
  • Yes, the policy of the West and the Arab has slaughtered us and killed us and it is still doing so in Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. It forces us to emigrate from our land and it causes in emptying our mother churches from their believers. From here we say to them: Stop the injustice, O those of you who conspire against us and against our Christianity. Is it not sufficient that your leaders once had conspired with the enemies of Christ, denied Him and delivered Him to be crucified? Does the conspiration of your leaders today against us and with the daily incitement of your friends aim to crucify us? If this is the case, then rest in comfort because we daily remember what Christ told us: “Do not be afraid O small flock…” and “Fear not those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…” We are crucified with joy because the cross has become the symbol of resurrection and life and not of death… We are crucified daily, but we will stay here in our churches and in our homelands… We will remain working with brothers of us from the true believers of the Muslims who do not trade in religion and they do not worship money. They are not slaves for those who have neither conscience nor ethics. With these we have lived, cooperated and participated in making our history and our civilization. With them we will remain confronting any non-religious rancorous phenomenon from any source whatever it is.
  • Therefore, together, Muslims and Christians, our voice must be raised to say enough for killing in the name of God and religion. Enough for occupation in the name of God and religion. Enough for favoritism by Arab and Western leaders. Let them feel ashamed and stop from upbringing the criminal terrorists and providing them with weapons and money and supporting them in killing man and destroying the homeland. Let them all be reassured that the more their violence and bestiality becomes, the more becomes our adherence to our land, our homelands and our national unity, and the more it becomes required of us, Muslims and Christians, to work together for the sake of protecting the homeland, the identity,social  justice and peace, the unity and the one living in freedom and dignity.