01 April 2006

Letter to the Grand Mufti of Syria

Syrian “Al Thawra” daily published in its 10th March 2006 issue an open letter to the His Eminence Sheikh Ahmad Badr Eddine Hassoun, Grand Mufti of Syria, signed by Syrian Armenian scholar Dr. Nora Arissian.

Below is the translation of parts of the message followed by the Arabic text:

A letter to the Grand Mufti of Syria

Friday, 10/3/2006
By Dr. Nora Arissian

I lived moments of pride when I was informed through the mass media about your call for issuing an international law prohibiting blasphemy of holy possessions of each nation and religion.

While encouraging Europe to support this request, you asked for dialogue and respect among religions and nations, instead of giving way to conflicts, such as what happened upon the publication of the ill cited cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) in some European publications.

It is heartening and soothing to notice that there is now certain interest in issuing a UN resolution dealing with the respect of religions … The EU also is in the process of issuing ethical guidelines for the mass media in this context. There is also a draft Islamic decision in the UN which forbids the practice of non-acceptance of other religions.

I would like to assure you that we in Syria live in an environment of co-existence that could be considered as a model for other nations … We do not accept any blasphemy of the Prophet or any disregard against the Islamic religion, especially that the world is witnessing many cases of sacrilege of the holy possessions of the other nations. In the mid December 2005 for example, armed men in Julfa (Nakhichevan) destroyed the Armenian stone-crosses in the historic cemetery at the bank of Arax River and discharged the stone load into the nearby river. This happened despite the existence of international agreements forbidding the sacrilege of religious, historical and ancient remains. These stone-crosses have great religious value for the Armenian people. Furthermore they are rare examples of Armenian sculptor art from 15th and 16th century.

I would like to concentrate on the importance of preventing the sacrilege of religious symbols and the necessity for the punishment of the offenders. We all agree that the crime of destroying historical monuments is a threat to the civilization, as these monuments have international value regardless of their geographic location and reference to particular nations.

When a senior Muslim cleric like you calls for establishing international regulation prohibiting sacrilege and blasphemy, you are indeed contributing in the preservation of these monuments. On the other hand, I believe it is our common duty to tell the world that Islam is a religion of peace, love, tolerance and protection of the others. It is a known fact how the Arab people in Syria hosted the Armenians during their tragedy in the beginning of the last century.
We are in need in this feeble world to religious personalities of your caliber to say their word and to demand the backing of international resolutions.

We wish you to continue benefiting the country and its two components:
Muslims and Christians.

Sincerely Yours,

Dr. Nora Arissian (narissian@namag.com)

Background information

Syria's grand mufti underlines religious toleranceSyria's grand Mufti and the Armenian consul discussed Wednesday the religious tolerance in Syria as well as in the Arab region saying "we have been carrying both Islam and Christianity as an honor message that benefits all people and countries."Mufti Ahmed Hassoun appreciated Armenian people's honorable stances towards Arab and Moslems' issues, particularly the "Palestinian just right of establishing an independent state with Jerusalem as a capital." For his part, Armenian Consul underlined the deep-rooted relations that connected the two countries and peoples in all fields, stressing the necessity of developing and enhancing them to serve the interests of both countries.

Source: http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/050915/2005091510.html
15th September 2005

See text in Arabic at:

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