22 November 2013
At the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace, Muslim and Christian Leaders Call for Common Action Syrian religious leaders attending the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace called for the release of two abducted bishops in Syria. The Assembly, which serves as a venue for conflict transformation, brought more than 600 religious leaders representing all historic faith traditions and every region of the world to restore and build peace. Each Syrian religious leader sent a strong message of support to the abducted bishops, the demand for their release, and the hope for a peaceful resolution.
The two Syriac bishops, Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, and Bishop Boulous Yazigi, a Greek Orthodox Bishop in Damascus, were kidnapped in Aleppo on 22 April 2013.
“These two bishops always worked for peace and a good life for all people,” H.E. Sheikh Dr. Mohamed Sohaib al-Chami, an Islamic scholar and a member of the Religions for Peace Inter-religious Council of Syria, reflected. “They kidnapped our bishops but they also took our soul, our love, and our hope. We remember their big role and work. And we hope that happiness will return to the people of Syria.”
Father Samuel Gümüs, Special Representative of His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, called for the immediate release of the two bishops. Father Gümüs implored, “I appeal to conscience, principles, morals and ethics of all peace lovers to spare no effort to bring about a safe and dignified release of Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulous Yazigi.”
Mrs. Asmaa Kiftaro, President of the Syrian Muslim Women’s Forum, shared a message of peace. Ms. Kiftaro declared, “Syria will rise again. The sons of Syria will serve their country. Peace, happiness, and smiles will come back to the people of Syria.”
Throughout the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace, delegates from different faiths around the world have sent prayers to express concern for those who are suffering in Syria. Plenary III, beginning the Assembly yesterday, opened with a moment of silence for Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim and Bishop Yazigi. Dr. William Vendley, Secretary General for Religions for Peace, said, “We stand in solidarity, our hands are in your hands, and we continue to pray.”