A group of Palestinian Christians will share their experiences of the Arab Israeli conflict and what it is like to live among the small and declining Christian population in the Middle East at an event at The University of Nottingham next week.
The Institute of Middle Eastern Studies in the University’s School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies is hosting ‘Living Stones: The Lived Experiences of Palestinian Christians’ as part of the delegation’s 12 day visit to the Church of England’s Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.
The public event at the University takes place at 5pm on Wednesday October 12 2011 and aims to enlighten political and public opinions on the Israel-Palestine problem.
It also aims to offer fresh insights into the question of whether peace in the Middle East will ever be achievable, from the seldom-heard perspective of the Christian minority which makes up less than two per cent of the Palestinian population.
The Palestinian visitors to the University are from Shefar’am in Galilee, northern Israel, the Christian quarter in the disputed territories of East Jerusalem, Nablus in the West Bank and the Jordanian capital, Amman. The group is led by the Revd Canon Hosam Naoum, of St George’s Anglican Cathedral, Jerusalem, who has long-established links with the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham involving several exchange visits over the past 10 years.
Canon Naoum’s delegation is made up of Middle Eastern Christians from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions who want to raise awareness of the acute problems facing Arab Christians in Israel and Occupied Territories, not least the worsening economic and political situations which are prompting some to leave for good.
The public event at the University will hear personal accounts of the vulnerability of the dwindling Christian population in the Holy Land including claims of illegal occupation, violence, social, religious and employment discrimination and human rights violations.
Canon Hosam Naoum said: “Christians in the Land of the Holy One, though a tiny minority, form an essential part of the Holy Land socio-political fabric. We are part of the wider community that faces great challenges and hardships, mostly, socio-economical as well as demographical threat. The exodus of Christians from the Holy Land does not just threaten the Christian Church or presence, but also the whole area. Christians are an important ingredient of the life of the whole region, because we are fully engaged in the regional equilibrium through our ministry of peace and reconciliation, which is at the heart of our vision and mission. Therefore, we urge you to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, because if there is peace in the City of the Resurrection, there is peace in the whole world.”
Dr Amal Treacher Kabesh, of the University’s Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, is co-organising the Living Stones event. She said: “This is a rare opportunity to hear from Palestinian Christians in the Middle East in relation to the challenges they face and endure. This will be a hopeful and inspirational evening as the speakers will talk of how they overcome the political and social difficulties of their everyday lives.”
Dr Hugh Middleton from the School of Sociology and Social Policy added: “I found it was hugely revealing to spend a short time living amongst Arab Christians in Shefar’am and Jerusalem when we returned Fr. Hosam’s earlier visit in 2009. There is no doubt that they live under a form of apartheid. We have enabled another visit to include this public meeting so kindly hosted by IMES, so that the visitors can share their experiences with as wide an audience as possible.”
The Palestinian Christians’ visit to the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham was organised by the members of the congregation at Southwell Minster. It chimes with a very recent appeal by the Archbishop of Canterbury for Anglican communities to do more to support Christian churches in the Holy Land. The Palestinian group will be in Nottinghamshire for a total of 10 days, and will also be visiting and speaking in local schools, churches and at the Diocesan Conference for lay people and clergy.
Details of the wider visit can be found at www.southwellminster.org/arab-christians.html
The 'Living Stones' event is open to all. It takes place at 5PM, WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 12 2011, LECTURE THEATRE B63, LAW & SOCIAL SCIENCES BUILDING, UNIVERSITY PARK, NOTTINGHAM, NG7 2 RD.
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