Quaker Universalist Conversations

QUF statement on church bombings and religious persecution

We of the Quaker Universalist Fellowship want to extend our condolences to and express our solidarity with members of the Coptic Church in Egypt, and with all religious minorities in the Middle East and elsewhere who suffer from persecution and terrorist violence.

The most recent church bombing in Egypt is unfortunately part of a deplorable pattern of attacks against Christians that have been taking place in predominantly Muslim countries.1 In the fall, a church in Baghdad was bombed in Iraq killing 46 worshippers. [2] Acts of violence against churches have occurred in Pakistan, Malaysia and elsewhere. Bahais, Mandaeans, Jews, Muslims and others have faced persecution and been the targets of violence because of their religion.

People of all faiths deplore such violence perpetrated in the name of religion. Quranic teachings on war forbid the killing of civilians, especially children, and the destruction of houses of worship.3 Muslims along with Christians have protested these heinous acts that violate the core of our Abrahamic religious tradition. Let us therefore  join in solidarity with Christians and Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere who are working together to foster understanding and to end violence. [4]

Along with supporting efforts at reconciliation, let us acknowledge that some of the actions taken by the US government have aroused anger and caused a backlash against Christians in the Middle East. Stephen Zunes, a Quaker professor who chairs the Middle East studies program at the University of San Francisco, discusses the US role in this cycle of anti-Christian violence and concludes: “Whenever you read the sanctimonious articles regarding the plight of Arab Christians, rather than simply bemoan the intolerance of Islamic extremists, let’s remember the role of Washington in supporting repressive regimes and creating the backlash that threatens them.” [5]

We also need to dispel the myth that Muslims do not express outrage or sorrow at terrorist attacks. For references, please consult The American Muslim: http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslim_voices_against_extremism_and_terrorism_2/
 It should be noted that Islamic organizations such as MPAC, CAIR and even Hamas have denounced the bombing of churches in Egypt and elsewhere.

The following response from the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California came very soon after the attack on the Egyptian Coptic church. The executive director of this Council is Shakeel Syed, who served on the executive board of the AFSC Regional office in Los Angeles. Dr. Hathout is a founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and an internationally recognized leader of the Muslim community. Following this statement, Syed, Hathout and other leaders of the Los Angeles community visited the bishop of the local Coptic Church to pay their respects and offer support and condolences.

Rahman nir Rahim – In the name of God the Most Beneficent the Most Merciful

(ANAHEIM- January 1, 2011) – The Islamic Shura Council of Southern California mourns the senseless killing of the Saints Coptic Church members in Alexandria, Egypt.

“We extend our most heartfelt condolences to the Coptic Christian community and abhor the heinous crime,” said the Chairman of the Shura Council, Dr. Maher Hathout. He also asked the member Mosques to reach out to the Coptic churches in their area and offer moral support.

“We sincerely share your grief and stand in solidarity,” wrote Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Shura Council, in a memo to the Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Los Angeles, His Grace Bishop Serapion.

The Islamic Shura Council is an umbrella organization of Mosques and Muslim organizations serving more than half a million Muslims in Southern California. Since 1995, the Council continues to foster the spirit and culture of “working together” at all levels in one of the most diverse and largest Muslim populations in the country.
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[1] http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/01/world/la-fg-egypt-church-attack-20110102

[2 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/02/world/middleeast/02iraq.html?_r=1)

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_military_jurisprudence

[4] http://42.blogs.warnock.me.uk/2010/11/christian-and-muslim-response-to-killings-in-iraq.html

[5] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-zunes/us-deserves-its-share-of-_b_801746.html

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