Prayer Vigil for Gaza

A vigil for Gaza was held in Reading town centre on Saturday 5th June organised by Reading Muslim Council with contributions from the Jewish Network for Palestine, Cordoba Foundation, Green Party, Slough PSC and Jewish Voices for Labour. Organisers estimate that around 250 people participated in the vigil while many people out shopping stopped to listen to the presentations. At the end of the vigil balloons were released in memory of each child killed in Gaza. I gave a short presentation (below) and also offered prayers for the bereaved and injured.

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Olive Picking Program in Palestine

Peacemakers is partnering with the Joint Advocacy Initiative of the YMCA in Palestine and Alternative Tourism Group (JAI-ATG) to promote their olive picking and olive tree planting programmes. To find out more visit their website.

This agricultural event is of special significance to the Palestinian economy when all energies and efforts are mobilized. The program aims to assist Palestinian farmers living close to illegal Israeli settlements who are vulnerable to attacks or land seizure.

Besides olive picking, the program features introductory presentations about the current situation in Palestine and the effects of the Apartheid Wall, tours in the old city of Jerusalem, Hebron, and Bethlehem, in addition to evening sessions, cultural event and social gatherings.

In December 2019, Stephen assisted with the olive tree planting project and also contributed to the 2020 Calendar.

Bishop Azad Marshall elected as Moderator of the Church of Pakistan

Bishop Azad Marshall of the Diocese of Raiwind has been unanimously elected Moderator of the Church of Pakistan (The Anglican Church of Pakistan became the United Church when it merged with three other denominations in 1970). This position has a three year term. He succeeds Bishop Humphrey Peters. Bishop Azad is also a valued member of the Peacemaker International Board of Reference.

In December 2016, Bishop Azad was honoured by the government of Pakistan for his work on human rights. He was one of 40 recipients of awards last weekend to mark International Human Rights Day. Bishop Azad received the Presidential Award for Human Rights from the President of Pakistan, Muhammad Mamnoon Hussain, during an award ceremony at the President’s House.

Bishop Azad is the President of National Council of Churches in Pakistan. “He has no doubt a long and continuous record of contributing to educational development and human rights in Pakistan,” a statement from the Diocese of Raiwind said. “We congratulate him and pray for his continuous ministry in Pakistan and beyond.”

The diocese thanked the Pakistan government “for recognising and nominating distinguished citizens committed to upholding the poor and the marginalized [and] for upholding their human rights.”

President Muhammad Mamnoon Hussain presents the human rights award to Bishop Azad Marshall

Immediate reversal of the unjust deportation of Wendy Hough

Dear Prime Minister and Ministers of the Turkish Cypriot Cabinet,

We, the undersigned, are appealing to you to immediately reverse the deportation of the British citizen Reverend Wendy Hough from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

On the 11th of December, two immigration officers arrived at Wendy’s home. She was taken from everything she owns, thrown in a rancid cell during a global pandemic and separated from her family. For five months she has been stranded at the border in the Republic of Cyprus (ROC). She bought her only home, investing all that she has into it. She has no other home to go to, has only survived financially with support from a global group of friends and is experiencing emotional distress.

TRNC Immigration claims she overstayed a three-day visa, about which she knew nothing, two weeks prior to the start of lockdown in February 2020 whilst at the time she was applying for residency. 

Wendy is a respected member of the community in the TRNC. She was appointed, in 2014, to be the priest of the English Church in Kyrenia, and stepped back from her position in 2018, to better serve the Turkish Cypriot Community. 

We ask that she is able to return home without further delay.

Please sign the petition here

Please leave a comment and also add your position or title and country as this will help give international weight to the petition.

Contribute toward Wendy’s appeal costs here

The Greatest Threat to Peacemaking

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:19-23)

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Ancestral Journeys and Western Missions by Anita Damiani-Shanley

Like other Western colonial-settler experiments, for over 70 years, Zionists have been systematically erasing the culture and history of indigenous Palestinians to justify their forced removal and the theft of their land. Ilan Pappe, in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, calls this ‘memorocide’ and in The Palestine Nakba, Nur Masalha elaborates, 

“The founding myths of Israel have dictated the conceptual removal of Palestinians before, during and after their physical removal in 1948… The de-Arabisation of Palestine, the erasure of Palestinian history and the elimination of the Palestinian’s collective memory by the Israeli state are no less violent than the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 and the destruction of historic Palestine.”

This is why books such as Ancestral Journeys and Western Missions are so vital in recording the memories and eyewitness accounts of Arabs and Palestinians who experienced the arrival of Western colonialists to the Middle East, were co-opted into their wars, witnessed the rise of Zionism and then became refugees in the Palestinian Nakba.  Anita Damiani-Shanley’s book will most certainly help perpetuate their heritage and rightful historic claim to Palestine.

Ancestral Journeys is however much more than the story of two families, one Arab and the other Scottish joined in marriage. It traces the influence of missionaries, archaeologists, traders and colonialists competing with each other for a share of the Near East as the Ottoman Empire met its demise. Richly illuminated with family photos, the three main chapters trace the ancestral journeys of Damiani-Shanley’s extended family from Scotland and Lebanon to Iraq and then to Palestine. A fourth chapter traces the role of the Anglican Church in Palestine.  

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Mariam Tadros Appointed Peacemaker Trustee

A graduate in Theology and Religious Studies, Mariam also has a postgraduate degree in Conflict Regulation in Divided Societies. Mariam has previously worked with Tearfund in their operational response in the Kurdish region of Iraq as well as working on the West and Central Africa desk. Mariam is a Technical Specialist for Peacebuilding, supporting peacebuilding projects in the Middle East, Central Asia, Latin America and West Africa – providing strategic and technical support to teams globally as well as conflict transformation training.