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CALENDAR OF EVENTS

November 2018
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Speeches

The pursuit of interreligious dialogue and harmony should not be simply an academic one. We must be aware that we live in a religiously, culturally and ideologically pluralistic world that we can either share or destroy. We must, therefore, be selective in our choices of sacred texts and concepts, and we should give preference to those that encourage greater understanding and cooperation among the people of different faiths and ideologies.

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A vicious cycle of anger, hatred, and violence between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples has led to a terrible loss of human life, great suffering, and an ongoing disregard for basic human rights. The nations’ leaders will also have to be bold and courageous enough to face the taboos that have been avoided, namely, the issue of Jerusalem and the holy sites, the borders between the two neighbors, the settlements, and finally—the heart of the problem and the most sensitive aspect—the issue of the refugees and their right to return.

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Our land is the land of peace. It is the temple, the birthplace of the Messiah, the place through which the prophet Mohammed passed, the Western Wall and the home of Jethro in Tiberias. Brothers and sisters, God demands that we make peace among ourselves. Speak only that which is good. God forbids us from disparaging others just as He forbids murder and bloodshed.

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Israeli Arabs are Palestinians and they are Israelis. We understand the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I think that we have a very vital role in bridging the Israelis and the Palestinians. This is our task, and we are working on it. Unfortunately, we lack the tools—the possibility, credibility and trust from both sides.

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Jesus said that in order to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, we must come as babies. That is also the attitude we need in order to bring peace. We have to find a neutral position, get rid of our baggage, and purify our thinking, because we cannot really establish peace unless we are men and women of peace.

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In many countries around the world, children are suffering because of war, conflict, hunger, and disease. They are growing up before their time, taking on roles and responsibilities that are not theirs to take. I once met a young Afghan refugee in Pakistan who told me, “When I grow up, I will have an army. I will avenge the death of my father and brother. I will kill those who dishonored my sister.” He was nine years old.

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Because I have been given wealth and perhaps a little bit of a name. I use a little of that to share with others. Because of that, people have recognized the kind of work we are doing in Kosovo and the Balkans, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, and now in Iraq. This last is right in the center of Baghdad, educating girls in computer skills and management skills. Our basic target is to help orphans.

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Islam is a religion for every woman, and every right given under the Shar’iah (Islamic law) is a right for every woman, whether Muslim or not Muslim. So according to Islam, a non-Muslim woman can claim the rights in the Qur’an because God made that law for all mankind.

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Since the end of the colonial era, when the Muslim nation-states emerged on the scene, we have had nation-states with flags but without any values or a political culture, a political ideology based on Islam.

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Four major revolutions have taken place in the world, and they affect the discussion of human rights. The American Revolution was based on the idea that human beings will no longer be ruled by a king or a queen. The second was the French Revolution, against monarchy and the Church. The third was the Russian Revolution, which overthrew the czar, abolished the Church, and raised the fundamental issue of property. The fourth was the Chinese Revolution, which overthrew a dynasty.

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One of the biggest misunderstandings in the matter of human rights is that the “common rights” concept was shaped in Europe, specifically in Britain by the Magna Carta, which is, in fact, six or seven centuries after the establishment of Islam. In the Qur’an and in the hadith human rights are based on the principle of the dignity of human beings. The Qur’an says, “Surely we have honored the human beings.” And human rights in Islam, as far as the Qur’an and the hadiths are concerned, cover all areas of life.

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We have the opportunity to reflect on the importance of dialogue among civilizations to world peace and the contributions of the family and universal values to that process.

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