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Call for a week of spiritual jihad, through fasting, prayer
and sakina (God-inspired peace of the soul)
for reconciliation between the children of Mother Syria
at the monastery of Mar Musa al-Habashi, in the mountain of Nebek
from Friday 23d to Friday 30th September 2011
The Pope said about the situation in Syria on Sunday, 7 August 2011: "I follow with great concern the dramatic and increasing episodes of violence in Syria, which caused many casualties and great suffering. I invite the Catholic faithful to pray, for the efforts for reconciliation to prevail on division and resentment. Moreover, I insistently ask the authorities and the Syrian people to restore as quickly as possible peaceful coexistence, and to respond adequately to the legitimate aspirations of the citizens while respecting their dignity, for the sake of stability in the region. "
The Community of Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi in the mountain of Nebek wishes to dedicate eight days to fasting, prayer and sakina for imploring of God Almighty, Father of All Mercy, reconciliation between citizens, on the basis of a common option for non-violence as the only method able to ensure sustainable reform and to avoid the slide into civil war and the vicious circle of revenge.
We welcome all citizens, brothers and sisters, wishing to participate in this blessed event inasmuch as they can. Your simple visit will also be very dear to our hearts. We further call you to feel committed with us spiritually and intellectually, and to communicate through internet.
We hope that our brothers and friends, and all citizens of Syria of whatever orientation, will support this our pious deed: We are family! We weep on all the martyrs, because they are our children, brothers and fathers... If only we could reach the heart of all those who have slipped into the use of violence, be it justified by fear, interest, duty, religion or ideology. We ask for the miracle of reconciliation in Syria, amen – a miracle that we will receive from God if we keep our hearts turned towards one another, daughters and sons of this homeland. Our country is wounded, souls are full of resentment and fear of the other. Every person regards the other as a danger for the own community, as an enemy of the country, and finds it hard to consider the other a human being like himself, with the same rights and dignity, even in the case he has himself disregarded them.
There is a great disparity in the way we assess events. Extremism carries us away, annulling the space for a possible national agreement in the sphere of common social life, driving people to division within the same house, the same monastery. In the end, it leads us to somehow justify the violence of the party we believe we belong.
How to get out of this deadly maelstrom that disfigures our humanity? How can we, on the one hand, achieve for the benefit of all the reforms that some desire, while keeping on the other hand the good things of the past, dear to others? How can dialogue occur between two sides that consider one another as liars, as enemies of the country and of humanity?
We have recently tried to put in words in an article entitled "A democracy of consensus" what we believe to be an appropriate formula.
And now we wish to entrust ourselves in the hands of God, the Friend of mankind, through supplication, dhikr (recalling the name of God) and spiritual discernment. May he have mercy on us, grant us his light, show us the way to reconciliation and open to us the doors to forgiveness.
It seems to us that there are doors to reconciliation, although themselves subject to dialogue and negotiation.
We wish the door to freedom of expression and freedom of press to open up, and the integrity of medias to improve in and outside the country, since getting out of lies is only possible when plural sources information are available. In nowadays world, it is indeed impossible for any country whatsoever to remain isolated from global society. We must therefore seek a minimum of objectivity through plurality of international media, knowing how imperfect the latter is and how necessary it is to react thereto.
The second door we knock at concerns the desire of mankind to reach a level of consciousness allowing to resolve conflicts without violence in the great majority of moments and situations. We therefore reject any foreign armed intervention, as we reject any internal escalation of terrorism. Furthermore, we cannot accept the use of violence to repress the peaceful movement for democracy.
One of the principles of the Charta of the United Nations prohibits interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country. However, we consider necessary to associate it with another principle, that of global solidarity for the good of all peoples and every individual. And if we refuse, consciously and clearly, a foreign armed intervention, some of us perceive as appropriate, given the situation in the country, the organized presence of movements for peace on the part of friendly countries, to help the people of Syria achieve reconciliation and reform, and avoid the vicious circle of civil war and revenge.
As a result of the foregoing, we suggest that the Syrian government invites the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent as well as other impartial international humanitarian organizations (such as the global movement of scouts, Gandhian movements or nongovernmental organizations for the defense of human rights) to cooperate with Syrian nongovernmental organizations in order to achieve three goals:
- guarantee of peaceful demonstrations,
- support for journalists to cover events,
- provision of mediation for the parties in conflict to enable them to communicate, so as to promote reconciliation and peace.
We suggest that the above logo, designed by a girl from Homs, be affixed to white shirts worn by volunteers for peace. The logo shows the colors of the Syrian national flag. Its red frame represents our love for the one and indivisible homeland; the olive-green leaves symbolize the peaceful reform we are longing for; the black olives are our martyrs and express our commitment to take care of their children.
We invite you to those days of fasting, prayer and sakina, because such a stand cannot be taken without asceticism and detachment from any personal interest not in accord with the common good. These are days of encounter and exchange of views in peace and quiet and respect for the dignity of every individual and his opinions.
We pray to God to grant the President of the Republic and the Syrian government the required wisdom and clear sight to overcome the crisis, in a spirit of service and sacrifice for the love of the homeland. We appeal to every responsible in the ranks of the opposition in its various components for commitment to non-violence, whatever it costs. We pray that all Syrian citizens in and outside the country and all friends of Syria understand and carry out their duty in this difficult moment, far from any denominational and ideological alignment. We certainly do not hate belongings, but we feel we belong to one another!
Written on September 8, 2011, or 10 Shawwal 1432, on the feast of the birth of Mary, Mother of Peace.
The Community of Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi