August 4, 2006 : The Standing Conference of American Middle-Eastern Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders Convenes in an Emerge


The Most Reverend
Metropolitan PHILIP

Archbishop of New York and
Metropolitan of All North America

The Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
OF NORTH AMERICA


358 Mountain Road, P.O. Box 5238, Englewood, NJ 07631-5238
Telephone (201) 871-1355 * Fax (201) 871-7954
Website: www.antiochian.org * Email: archdiocese@antiochian.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 4, 2006 – Englewood, New Jersey

THE STANDING CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN MIDDLE-EASTERN CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM RELIGIOUS LEADERS CONVENES IN AN EMERGENCY SESSION AND ISSUES A RESOLUTION DEALING WITH THE CRISIS IN LEBANON.

On Thursday August 3rd, 2006, the members of the Standing Conference of American Middle-Eastern Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders convened for an emergency meeting to discuss and take action on the current crisis in Lebanon. The meeting was hosted by the Chairman, His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, and was held at the headquarters of the Antiochian Archdiocese in Englewood, New Jersey. The following were in attendance:

Metropolitan Philip (Saliba), Chairman and Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
His Excellency Tarek Mitri – Minister of Culture and Acting Foreign Minister of Lebanon
His Excellency Nouhad Mahmoud – Acting Ambassador of Lebanon to the UN
Sheikh Sami Merhi – Chairman, Druze Council of America
Sheikh Hamad Ahmad Chebli – Islamic Society of Central New Jersey
Imam Fadhel Al-Sahlani – Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center of Jamica, NY
Bishop Antoun Khouri, Bishop of Miami and the Diocese of the Southeast
Fr. Nerses Manoogian representing Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan – Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America
Very Rev. John Meno representing Archbishop Cyril Aphrem Karim – Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church
Mr. Abdulbaset Ibrahim – Vice President of InterTrama Corp. accompanying Imam Al-Sahlani

The following members were not able to attend the meeting:

Most Rev. Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros, Eparch of Newton, Diocese of Newton, MA
Rt. Rev. Bishop Gregory Mansour, Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, NY

The members discussed the enormous crisis that has been caused in Lebanon by the Israeli bombing and ground offensive. These Israeli military actions have killed more than 900 Lebanese, and have displaced almost 1 million Lebanese citizens from their homes. The vast majority of those Lebanese who have been killed are civilians, and more than one-third of them have been children.

The members of the Standing Conference expressed their solidarity by unanimously approving the following resolution:

1. A call for an immediate and unconditional cease fire to stop the death and destruction

2. A call for the exchange of prisoners between Lebanon and Israel

3. A call for Israel to withdraw from the Shib’aa Farms, which Israel has occupied since 1967, and all other occupied Lebanese lands

4. A call for the international community to give immediate humanitarian assistance to those who are suffering, and to help hundreds of thousands of displaced Lebanese citizens to return to their cities, villages, and homes

5. A call for the international community to help Lebanon rebuild the infrastructure that has been destroyed by Israeli aggression.

6. A call for the UN to investigate the massacre at Qana which took place on Sunday July 30, 2006

7. Support for the statement which was issued by the religious leaders of Lebanon who met in Pkerki – August 1, 2006

8. A call for the implementation of all UN resolutions that address occupied territories in Lebanon and the entire region

9. A statement deploring the killing of any human being, and reiterating that all killing is against our religious beliefs

The assembled religious leaders also focused on fundraising appeals that have been made by every denomination to their faithful. It is hoped that this fundraising will result in generous support which will be sent directly to ease some measure of suffering for the people of Lebanon.

A reporter and photographer from the New Jersey press corps were also present to conduct interviews and take photographs of the assembly. An interview was conducted with Metropolitan Philip, and with His Excellency Tarek Mitri, Lebanese Minister of Culture and acting Foreign Minister. They both stressed the urgent need for an immediate cease fire, the exchange of prisoners between Israel and Lebanon, and the Israeli withdrawal from occupied Lebanese lands.

Photos below...

The members of the Standing Conference of American Middle-Eastern Christina and Muslim Religious Leaders who attended the August 6th emergency Meeting (l. to r.)  Bishop Antoun, Fr. Nerses Manoogian, Sheik Sami Merhi, Metropolitan Philip, Sheikh Hamad Ahmad Chebli, Imam Fadhel Al-Sahlani, Mr. Abdulbaset Ibrahim
The members of the Standing Conference of American Middle-Eastern Christina and Muslim Religious
Leaders who
attended the August 6th emergency Meeting (l. to r.)  Bishop Antoun, Fr. Nerses Manoogian, Sheik Sami Merhi,
Metropolitan Philip, Sheikh Hamad Ahmad Chebli, Imam Fadhel Al-Sahlani, Mr. Abdulbaset Ibrahim

The attendees in working session
The attendees in working session

The attendees in working session
The attendees in working session

The attendees in working session
The attendees in working session

Metropolitan Philip is interviewed by the press
Metropolitan Philip is interviewed by the press

His Excellency Tarek Mitri and Metropolitan Philip responding to questions from the press
His Excellency Tarek Mitri and Metropolitan Philip responding to questions from the press

Dialog with the press (l. to r.) Sheik Sami Merhi, His Excellency  Nouhad Mahmoud, His Excellency Tarek Mitri, and Metropolitan Philip.
Dialog with the press (l. to r.) Sheik Sami Merhi, His Excellency  Nouhad Mahmoud,
His Excellency Tarek Mitri, and Metropolitan Philip.

“…the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” ACTS 11:26