In the politically turbulent Middle East & North Africa, religious minorities are too often marginalized, oppressed, and completely ignored. But an upcoming event in San Francisco seeks to illuminate how these groups have more in common than conflict. Bridging divides between culture and spirituality, “Faith Beyond Borders” will connect and build solidarity between Middle Eastern/North African Christians, Jews and Muslims with shared experiences of political and faith-based persecution.
Presented by JIMENA, the forum will feature several young adult speakers from Arab countries and Iran, who have lived through major upheaval, played influential roles in political movements, and have been forced to flee their respective homes on account of their beliefs and actions. They will come together to provide insight into the perspectives of their communities, which are seldom heard in mainstream media or public discourse.
Participants include: Hadeel Kouky, a Syrian Christian former political prisoner who was detained for providing medical assistance to demonstrators and smuggled into Turkey; Karmel Melamed, an award-winning Iranian Jewish journalist and noted human rights and LGBT advocate, who was born just after the Islamic Revolution and fled to the US, and Hussein Aboubakr Mansour. Though as an Egyptian Muslim, Mansour was part of the religious majority in his home country, he also survived persecution for his alignment with religious minorities and commitment to eradicating anti-Semitism, his opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood, and action in the Egyptian Revolution in support of civil liberties.
The convening will feature a panel discussion moderated by Dumisani Washington, founder of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel and senior pastor of the Congregation of Zion in Stockton. An interactive question & answer forum will also explore the unique struggles, commonalities and issues facing religious minorities in Arab countries & Iran, as well as ways to build solidarity and mutual support between groups. This comes at a particularly poignant time, as severe oppression, imprisonment and torture of Christians have swept many Arab Muslim countries in recent years. The Mizrahi Jewish community, who has survived violent persecution in the same region, is greatly positioned to be an ally. This event will open an opportunity for dialogue between voices that rarely have a platform for meaningful and candid interaction.
The event is open to the public and people of all religious and cultural backgrounds are encouraged to attend, share ideas and learn how to support one another as allies for religious pluralism and equality, from the Bay Area to the Middle East.
This program is generously supported by the Libitzky Family Foundation