Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Archdiocese in North America speaks
We gather this evening to pray for the repose of the souls of the Arab martyrs who died in a vain war which history never experienced. When a revolution in Tunisia overthrew President Zin al-Abidin bin Ali, and when another revolution in Libya overthrew Colonel Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, the USA said, “This is the Arab Spring“. In the June issue of Word Magazine, which expresses the opinion of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, I wrote an editorial titled: Is this an Arab Spring or a tornado? This tornado extended to wounded Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, beloved Syria, and beautiful Lebanon, whilst Jordan stands these days on the edge of the abyss. After the Zionists’ gangs defeated all Arab armies during the ﬁrst war between the Arabs and Israel, the great Syrian poet Omar Abu Risha, with much indignation, delivered a poem in Aleppo that said:
My nation, do you have among other nations a pulpit for the sword or pen?
I look at you with much sadness ashamed from your past which has vanished.
My nation, how many idols you gloriﬁed which did not have the purity of an idol?
This past which has vanished, and over which Omar Abu Risha shed tears, is the dawn of Islam when the Prophet Muhammad destroyed the idols of al-Kaʿbah. As our Lord Jesus Christ drove out the traders from the Temple saying to them, “My House is a house of prayer, but you have made out of it a den for thieves”. Are the Salaﬁsts and fundamentalists who slay children as if they are sheep and who stab men in the chest to take out the hearts of their enemies and eat them are Muslims? Oh my God, NO! They’re blasphemers, and if you don’t believe me, go to the Holy Quran and learn forgiveness and love. The Quran states, “Man is the brother of man whether he likes it or not”.
Advise them to read Sura al Imran, Sura al-Ma’ida, and Sura Maryam; then, maybe, they’d understand. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you and if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also”. He also said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. When we see rivers of blood streaming in the Arab streets, we can’t help but ask, “Are they really Muslims?” Moreover, when we see the Christian West supply Arab countries and Arab people with lethal weapons to kill each other we can’t help but ask, “Where are the Christians?”
Four months ago, gunmen abducted two Orthodox Archbishops from Aleppo, namely Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim and Archbishop Boulos al-Yazigi. Rumour has it that they’re imprisoned between the Syrian and Turkish borders and other rumours say that they’ve been killed and departed to the Heavenly Kingdom. What did these two God-loving Archbishops, who dedicated their lives to prayer, good deeds, and preaching love do to deserve such treatment? Why haven’t we heard anything from them or their captors after all these days? Real revolutions are made for creating a new world, not for kidnapping, murder, stealing, burning churches and mosques, kidnapping bishops, and shedding the blood of priests.
I don’t want to talk too long, however, allow me to conclude this message with some verses of poetry which were written by the famous and great Damascene poet, Nizar Kabbani, may his soul rest in peace, during the commemoration of the establishment of the Arab League in Egypt, which moved to Tunisia after President Anwar al-Sadat signed that shameful peace with Israel. I remember from this famous poem the following immortal verses:
O green Tunisia I have come to you as a lover,
And on my forehead there is a book and a rose.
I am the Damascene whose profession is love.
He sang and the earth and the forest became green.
I am tired my friend with my Arabism.
Is Arabism a curse and torture?
The Arab world is either a slain
Lamb or a butcher ruler.
This is our tragic condition today. May the peace and the mercy of God and His blessings be upon you.
28 August 2013