Sabeel Center and Al-Liqa’ Center
An Encounter between Clergy and Sheikhs in Bir Zeit and ‘Aboud
Discuss issues and challenges concerning our “Shared Living”
At the invitation of Al-Liqa’ Center and Sabeel Center a group of Muslims and Christians from Birzeit, ‘Abbud and Jefna met at the Latin Patriarchate in Birzeit with the major aim of building bridges of friendship between more than forty religious leaders, educators, and community leaders. The Mayor of Birzeit, Dr. Yousef Nasser, and the Secretary of the Muslim and Christian Association for the Support of Jerusalem and Holy Places, Dr. Hanna ‘Issa were also present.
Fr. Dr. Louis Hazboun, the Latin Parish Priest, welcomed all those present and stressed the importance to a peaceful life together with mutual love and respect. Then he asked all participants to introduce themselves and say something about their work and interest.
Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, Director of Sabeel, introduced the Jerusalem Center and stressed that the meeting which is taking place here in Birzeit and previously in Jericho and Beit Sahour focus on the importance of understanding, mutual respect and the acceptance of the “Other”. The importance of these meetings cannot be underestimated hoping that this meeting in Birzeit will be successful and fruitful.
Dr. Geries S. Khoury, Director of Al-Liqa’, thanked Fr. Louis for his help in inviting these distinguished members, Muslims and Christians, to this first gathering of its kind in the area of Birzeit city. This is a good sign for our shared living, for knowing one another, which leads to mutual respect and good friendship that build bridges between individuals and families and between Muslim and Christian clerics. Our two religions call for this unity and such bridges. Shared living in love and peace and the respect and acceptance of the other are in the essence of Christianity and Islam.
Fr. Dr. Louis followed by stressing the importance of these meetings, the needed mutual respect and peaceful living at the same time preserving our national unity and the teachings of heavenly religions. He put before the group several questions related to shared living and brotherhood.
Following introductory remarks by Rev. Ateek, Dr. Geries and Fr. Louis, about ten persons of the participants took part in the open discussion. All of them stressed shared living in this Holy Land … There is a dire need for Christian and Muslim religious leaders to appear together in social, religious and national occasions… We need to stop the bleeding of emigration by Christians whose loss is a great loss to the local church and to the Palestinian nation. Our shared living is excellent but we need to recognize reality where some problems exist and need to be resolved. Others stressed the importance of education and the curriculum. Many problems are not religious in nature but can be traced to education, moral values and to some social matters.
At the end of the meeting, Rev. Ateek and Dr. Khoury presented a summary of the meeting expressing their hope to organize another meeting during Ramadan. And at the end of meeting, all were invited for dinner, during which the discussion continued in a brotherly atmosphere.