Deadly attacks in Sri Lanka tap into global anxiety about Christian-Muslim violence

QNVVPQTE3YI6TJUYFKHYBDE47MThe Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, a Buddhist-majority country not known for religious violence or intolerance, are tapping into global worries about safety.

Experts who study long-term trends of religious intolerance and violence disagree, however, on whether things are getting worse, better or generally have remained level.

Even so, religious leaders say the attacks have come at a fragile time.

Religious institutions are losing power, and anger, tribalism and controversy boil away online every minute of the day. It’s hard to gauge or stop tensions from ballooning, they say, and the Sri Lanka attacks are a reminder of the risks.

Sri Lankan officials — with help from the FBI — Monday said the attacks were carried out by the National Thowheed Jamaath, a local Islamist militant group, with suspected international assistance.

“Here’s a nation that has pluralism and yet still had religious terrorism. It reminds you there isn’t one solution, no one safe place. It’s surprising,” said Ed Stetzer, who holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair for Church, Mission and Evangelism at Wheaton College and has trained evangelists across the world.

The attacks in Sri Lanka come as other incidents are fresh in memory. Those include the killings of 50 people at a New Zealand mosque last month, the October 2018 killing of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the deaths of at least 45 people during twin Palm Sunday bombings in Egypt in April 2017.

In the United States, churches and mosques have begun adding security infrastructure to their places of worship. At the same time, there are high-level interfaith and pluralism efforts going on between Christian and Muslim leaders and groups that didn’t exist a generation ago. Those include the creation of international religious freedom ambassadors in several Western countries, said Rabbi David Saperstein, who held that position under President Barack Obama. They also include the Marrakesh Declaration, a January 2016 statement by hundreds of Muslim religious leaders worldwide committing to the rights of religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries. The Southern Baptist Convention, the biggest Protestant U.S. denomination, has filed court briefs in support of religious freedom for Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Interfaith forum explores commonalities between Catholic and Muslim views of Mary and Jesus

5c9ed13dad297.imageFrom Adam to Abraham, Islam and Christian commonality both includes a reverence for Mary and Jesus, attendees learned March 24 at an interfaith forum at Sacred Heart Church in Dearborn.

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The three-part interfaith forum, with speakers, small group discussion, and a question and answer period, was designed to explore the common beliefs between Islam and Christianity, which, with Judaism, all spring from Abrahamic religions.

Sacred Heart parishioner Chris DuBois (left) joins another attendee in discussion after listening to speakers at an interfaith gathering March 24 in the parish hall at Sacred Heart Catholic Church exploring the commonalities between the Catholic and Islamic beliefs about Mary and Jesus.

Held in the Sacred Heart parish hall, the featured speakers were Robert Fastiggi, a professor of systemic theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and Imam Mohammed Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights.

Fastiggi said one of the central beliefs of Christianity is that Jesus Christ performed miracles through the power within him, and that he is the son of God. He noted that the triune God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is considered one God in Christian belief, not three.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PRESS AND GUIDE 

Faith and Values : Muslims, Christians have much in common

islamic-christian-f7956d513f609d5d620cf096093d8243b1fa84f3-s800-c85All months tend to bring to mind the special events that occur within them; for the month of April, it is Spring and Easter.

Muslims also believe in Jesus, the son of Mary. As a matter of fact, from the 114 chapters that consist in the Holy Qur’an, the 19th one is named after his Mother, Surah Maryam, or Chapter Mary.

Within this chapter, the story of Jesus’s miraculous birth is told. He is mentioned many times throughout the Holy Qur’an. Millions of Muslims are also named after the son and mother, which is Isa and Maryam in Arabic. Thus, if studied, one will find many similarities with the Christian faith when it comes to Jesus, from his virgin birth to his miracles, i.e. curing the lepers and bringing the dead back to life.

The main differences between Muslims and Christians about Jesus regard his divinity and his death. Muslims honor Jesus as a great prophet of God who was not crucified, but taken to the heavens alive, and that he and will reappear during the end of time, the Second Coming of Christ.

A very interesting note is that Easter this year will be on April 21, 2019, which will fall on the Islamic date of the 15th of the month of Shaban, the birth anniversary of the 12th Imam, Muhammad al Mahdi. He is the great-grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

The Muslims believe the Mahdi is the Messiah. He too is alive, in occultation, (hidden from view) on Earth, and will reappear during the end of time, along with Jesus. The Mahdi will lead in establishing peace and justice on Earth.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MCALL 

Pope Francis: God Desires Solidarity Among Catholics and Muslims

GA0403.jpgSpeaking during his General Audience, the Holy Father reflected upon his recent trip to Morocco, calling for greater fraternity.

ROME – Reflecting upon his recent apostolic journey to Morocco, Pope Francis said Wednesday that God desires a greater sense of fraternity among Catholics and Muslims as “brother children of Abraham.”

“Some may ask, ‘But why does the pope visit the Muslims and not only the Catholics?’” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Square April 3.

“With Muslims, we are descendants of the same father, Abraham,” he said. “What God wants is fraternity between us in a special way,” he added, noting that this was the motive behind his travels.

Pope Francis offered thanks to God that his trip to the Moroccan capital of Rabat March 30-31 was “another step on the path of dialogue and encounter with our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

“My pilgrimage has followed in the footsteps of two saints: Francis of Assisi and John Paul II,” he explained.

“Eight hundred years ago Francis brought the message of peace and fraternity to the Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil, and  in 1985 Pope Wojtyła made his memorable visit to Morocco, having received at the Vatican – first among the Muslim heads of state – King Hassan II,” he said.

On his first day in Morocco, Pope Francis signed an “Appeal for Jerusalem,” with the Moroccan King Mohammed VI. The joint-declaration called for Jerusalem to be preserved as a “peaceful place of meeting for the three monotheistic religions,” the pope explained.

Religions have the essential role of “defending human dignity and promoting peace, justice and care for creation, that is our home common,” Francis said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER 

Mindanao conflict moves Muslim to work with Christians

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Her days at university exposed her to the religions and cultures of people different from hers, but Hidaya Macaapar Sultan, a 22-year-old Muslim, said it was war that moved her to work with people of other faiths.

In 2017, when a group of extremist gunmen attacked the city of Marawi causing the displacement of about half a million people, Sultan, or Mida to her friends, felt the need “to respond to the situation.”It was the conflict, which affected family and friends, which aroused her to enter into a dialogue and collaborate with faith-based groups in helping the people.

More than a year after the war, Mida, a registered social worker, is now area coordinator for Duyog Marawi, a recovery project initiated by the Catholic Church in the war-torn city.”Now that we are on the stage of development work, we need to strengthen our collaboration with other church groups,” she told ucanews.com in an interview.

She said her decision to work with a Catholic-led organization has become “life-changing” and has introduced her to the “role of faith” in disaster response.”I have seen how people suffer because of the war, but I’ve also witnessed how lives were saved because different religions worked together,” she said.

Role of local people

As of February this year, about 11,400 people, including an estimated 300 Christian families, remain in temporary shelters with no houses to go back to in Marawi.Mida’s organization, Duyog Marawi, has already initiated programs for the rehabilitation of conflict-stricken areas in partnership with Muslim communities.

It has at least 140 volunteers and 40 regular staff members, the majority of whom are young Muslims who were affected by the 2017 crisis. Rey Barnido, executive director of Duyog Marawi, said the involvement of young Muslims has become an integral part of “intervention and humanitarian response.”

“If it were not for the local players, especially our Muslim staff and volunteers, our programs would have been harder to implement,” he said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM UCA NEWS 

Franciscans give Jordan’s king award for his peace, dialogue work

20190329T0921-25447-CNS-ASSISI-FRANCISCANS-JORDAN-KING_800-787x514Father Mauro Gambetti, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a ceremony at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy March 29, 2019. Abdullah was awarded the Lamp of Peace, a top Catholic peace prize presented by the Conventual Franciscans of the Sacred Convent of Assisi. (Credit: Yara Nardi/Reuters via CNS.)

 

AMMAN, Jordan – Jordan’s King Abdullah II urged greater cooperation to take on serious challenges worldwide as he was awarded a top Catholic peace prize by the Conventual Franciscans of the Sacred Convent of Assisi in central Italy.

The annual award, known as the Lamp of Peace, recognizes King Abdullah II’s tireless promotion of peace in the troubled Middle East, support of interreligious dialogue, welcome of refugees and educational reforms.

“To me, the Lamp of Peace of St. Francis symbolizes how peace lights our way forward to a better future for all people, of every faith and country and community,” Abdullah told a packed St. Francis Basilica, housing the saint’s relics and the renowned fresco series of his life.

“But it is our task to provide the fuel for that light, and what fuels global peace is mutual respect and understanding,” Abdullah emphasized, receiving strong applause.

“It is only by combining our efforts that humanity will meet today’s serious challenges – to solve global crises; heal our earth’s environment; and include everyone, especially our youth, in opportunity,” the king told the assembly. Among the crowd were last year’s award recipient, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Franciscan Father Mauro Gambetti presented the Lamp of Peace to the king.

Abdullah asked for a moment of silence to “remember the suffering families and victims of the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, two weeks ago. Such evil, wherever it happens, is our suffering, too.”

As Jordan’s Hashemite monarch, the 41st-generation direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, Abdullah has upheld the importance of the Christian presence in his country and the Middle East.

“The principles of coexistence and interfaith harmony are deeply embedded in Jordan’s heritage,” he said. “Our country is home to a historic Christian community. All our citizens actively share in building our strong nation. Indeed, Christians have been part of Middle East societies for thousands of years and are vital to the future of our region.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CRUX 

 

Within hours of the Christchurch mosque attacks, people of various faiths rallied around Muslims

190315124115-church-of-england-nz-super-tease(CNN)Churches are opening their doors after mosques were told to close for security issues in the wake of the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attacks. Mosques are receiving messages of solidarity and flowers. A fundraiser for the victims is nearing $400,000. And a UK-based national forum for Christian-Muslim engagement is calling on Christians to go along to Friday prayers at their local mosques — a call the archbishop of Canterbury endorsed.

These are only a few examples of how people and institutions are showing solidarity and offering help to Muslim communities all over the world after Friday’s shooting attacks on two Christchurch mosques that killed at least 49 people and seriously injured 20 others.
In some of the worst terror attacks and mass shootings of recent years, Muslim communities have stepped up to help in different ways. In the aftermath of October’s Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, for example, the Muslim-American nonprofit groups CelebrateMercy and MPower Change launched a crowdfunding appeal that raised thousands for the victims.