Text: Solveig Hansen
Generating Forgiveness and Constructing Peace through Truthful Dialogue: Abrahamic Perspectives is based on Hilarie Roseman’s Ph.D. thesis, in which she describes the essence of reconciliation and forgiveness.
“How do members of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic organizations address unresolved questions of reconciliation and forgiveness? Mending links means forgetting and disposing of old hurtful memories, looking carefully at human needs, and with the love and forgiveness that religions teach, working together to construct peace.”
Hilarie Roseman graduated with her Ph.D. in International Communications in 2014. She lives in Australia.
The excerpt below is from her thesis.
Generating Forgiveness and Constructing
Peace through Truthful Dialogue:
By Dr. Hilarie Roseman
Similarities of protracted conflict
Three scenes of protracted conflict: South Africa, Ireland, and the Middle East. The similarities are discussed below:-
- All worked for peace (South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission).
- All had introduced settlers (Ireland had 600 years of British rule).
- All had the enemy “within” their community, not without.
- Equal rights (“Zionism and Palestinian nationalism clashed over the ownership of the land, the right for self-determination, and statehood” (Rouhana (1998 pg. 762).
- Lack of education, work, housing for all “their demands cannot be met by the same resources at the same time” (Wallensteen (2002, pg. 15).
- Deep seated experiences of being “wronged”. “Conflicts are carried forward by states and states-in-waiting, and are often about the control of land and resources – including people” (Kant 1795).
- Various violent and non – violent efforts to claim back what is lost.
- A final understanding that everyone has to work together and the beginning of community education for peace.
The role of religion in the Palestinian, Israel, conflict
Earlier, we have seen that conflict theorists think that land is at the center of the conflict. However, I have approached the Abrahamic communities as family communities. All having common connections in history, and able to call Abraham their father in faith. So if we look at this conflict from an extended way – we look for the connections and commonalities:-
- Israel is a Jewish State, and the proposed Palestinian State would be Muslim.
- Both Jews and Muslims have lived on this land for thousands of years.
- They are genetically connected. Both have Abraham as their earthly father, in the common DNA kind of way that we find out today with gene research. The Jews are descended from Isaac and the Arab Muslims from Ishmael, both sons of Abraham, but with different mothers; Isaac from Sarah, and Ismael from Hagar. They both had life and death experiences with their father, but, eventually, buried him together in peace (Gen. 25.9).
- The religious role in the Oslo Accords was negative in the extreme. The Jewish peacemaker Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated on November 4th 1995 by a far-right-wing Zionist Yigal Amir from his own country, who did not want him to sign the Peace Treaty. Extreme outbursts of activism were “not just expressions of disagreement with policy, however; they were signs of frustration with a world gone awry. The dissenters’ anxiety was personal as well as political, and in a fundamental way, their fears were intensely religious” (Juergensmeyer 200-2003 pg. 45).
- Twenty percent of the Jewish population of Israel can be said to be of the religious right, under the banner of Zionism. Zionism is the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel (Zionism, Jewish virtual library). Historical ties and religious tradition link the Jewish people to the land of Israel. Juergensmeyer explains that “In talking to Israel’s religious activists , it became clear to me that what they were defending was not only the political entity of the State of Israel, but a vision of Jewish society that had ancient roots” (ibid pg. 46).
- There was also an “enemy” within the Muslim camp. The Egyptian Anwar Sadat was assassinated on 6th October 1981 by fundamentalist army officers after he had negotiated a peace treaty with Israel.
- The same negativity can be seen within the Hamas political party who is governing Gaza at the present moment. They have in their constitution a very negative religious indictment of the Jewish people. The Hamas Covenant 1988, in the preamble, states that Israel will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it. Article 6 includes “The Islamic Resistance movement strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine”. Article 13 includes “there is no solution for the Palestine question except through jihad” (Yale Law School, The Avalon Project, Hamas Covenant, 1988). According to Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman in an interview shortly after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre, a Muslim can “never call for violence,” only for “love, forgiveness and tolerance.” But he added that “if we are aggressed against, if our land is usurped, we must call for hitting the attacker and the aggressor to put an end to the aggression” (ibid).
The Muslims, Jews and Christians in the research groups throw a light onto a common way forward for the seemingly impossible and unchangeable attitudes of family members of Abraham. They discuss from a family point of view enemies, forgiveness, and the construction of peace. The way forward is with remediations that can begin where you are living. They also dialogued about fundamentalists, hoping that they would achieve a deeper faith, and coming to the conclusion that they had to accept the good they held, while also recognizing in them what was not good. The action I speak of now is that of Boraine. He discerned and confronted the South African Government with the premise that they were living out a false gospel. So, for us, we can look at the evidence that the common commandment to love God and neighbour is not being taught in Abrahamic communities. The focus groups have reached this conclusion, that it is not being taught, and remember, it has to be taught before it can be put into practice. The focus groups have stood up and spoken with a plea for its reinstatement.
Copyright Hilarie Roseman PhD, from “Generating forgiveness and constructing peace with truthful dialogue: Abrahamic perspectives” (2014 Dignity Press)
Text: Solveig Hansen
While some communities are becoming more liberal, others are becoming more fundamentalist. In the last few decades, thousands of men and women have been arrested and punished under blasphemy laws all over the world. In some countries, people have taken the law into their own hands and killed those accused of blasphemy.
The author of this article, Dr. Khalid Sohail, is a Canada-based author and psychotherapist. He is also IFLAC Peace Ambassador for India and Pakistan.
From Blasphemy Law to Freedom of Speech
By Khalid Sohail, 2015
Are there personalities in life that are sacred?
Are there books in the world that are holy?
Do people have the right to challenge and criticize things that other people consider holy and sacred?
Do people have the right to kill those who offend their religious beliefs?
These are some of the questions hidden behind the political dialogues, social discussions and religious debates about blasphemy law and freedom of speech.
For centuries, in many religious communities, countries and cultures, blasphemy was considered a religious crime punishable by death. The common way to kill anyone who committed blasphemy was by hanging or stoning. Leviticus 24:13-16 states that God said to Moses:
Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. Say to the Israelites, “If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible, anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him.”
But in the last century, many such religious, autocratic and punitive traditions have been challenged by atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and human-rights activists who want to create a democratic, secular and humanist world. The irony is that while some communities are becoming more liberal, others are becoming more fundamentalist. While some countries are abolishing blasphemy laws, others are becoming more punitive. Some cultures are becoming more secular and separating church and state; others are becoming more theocratic and merging mosque and government.
In the last few decades, thousands of men and women have been arrested and punished under blasphemy laws all over the world. In some countries, people have taken the law into their own hands and killed those accused of blasphemy.
The Pakistan Penal Code prohibits blasphemy against God, prophets, scriptures and organized religions; and the penalties range from fines to death.
Penal Code 298 states: Uttering of any word or making any sound or making any gesture or placing of any object in the sight with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person. The penalty is one year in prison or a fine or both.
Penal Code 295 B focuses on: Defiling of Quran. The penalty is imprisonment for life.
Penal Code 295 C states: Use of derogatory remarks, spoken, written, directly or indirectly that defy the name of Muhammad. The penalty is mandatory death and a fine.
Between 1986 and 2007, the Pakistani authorities charged 647 people with blasphemy offenses. Half of these were non-Muslims, who comprise only 3 per cent of the Pakistani population. Many innocent people from Christian, Ahmedi and Shiite communities were murdered by angry and violent mobs in Pakistan, creating terror among religious minorities.
Pakistani laws became more punitive in the 1980s during the government of General Zia-ul-Haq who tried to Islamize Pakistan. Now in Pakistan we have the Federal Shariat Court that ensures that no law can be made in Pakistan that goes against the teachings of Islam (Constitution Article 203 D).
The Blasphemy Law in Pakistan has many tragic stories attached to it. Let me share a few:
- In October 2000, Pakistani authorities charged Dr. Younas Shaikh with blasphemy on account of remarks that students claimed he made during a lecture. A judge ordered that Dr. Shaikh pay a fine of 100,000 rupees and that he be hanged. Fortunately, Dr. Shaikh was able to leave Pakistan in 2003 and now resides in Switzerland where the government gave him asylum.
- In 2006, Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code and the film based on the book were banned in Pakistan as they were considered blasphemous. Culture Minister Ghulam Jamal said, “Islam teaches us to respect all the prophets of God Almighty and degradation of any prophet is tantamount to defamation of the rest.”
- In 2014, Muhammad Asghar, a 70-year-old British man from Edinburgh, was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death by a court in Rawalpindi, as he declared that he was a prophet. There were many who defended Mr. Asghar as he suffered from mental illness.
- In 2010, Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by hanging, on a charge of blasphemy. When Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, a secular humanist, supported her publicly, he was shot dead by his fundamentalist security guard Mumtaz Qadri for supporting Asia Bibi. It is a sad state of affairs that there are so many lay people and lawyers in Pakistan who are more sympathetic to Mumtaz Qadri than Salman Taseer.
In the last decade, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has tried to introduce a blasphemy law in the United Nations. The campaign ended in 2011 when the proposal was withdrawn in Geneva, in the Human Rights Council. The proposal did not get much support, as it was obvious that a blasphemy law could not be defined, and furthermore it would violate human rights and would be abused by religious fundamentalists all over the world.
Many humanists and human rights activists oppose blasphemy laws because they conflict with the values of freedom of speech and expression that are central to the traditions of secularism, democracy and humanism. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by the United Nations, states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
The tradition of freedom of speech and expression originated in Greece in the 5th century B.C. That tradition was promoted by many democratic countries including England and France. England’s Bill of Rights in 1689 legally established the right of freedom of speech. In France, in 1789, the French government included in their constitution the Declaration of the Rights of Man for all citizens.
Over the centuries, while many secular organizations, institutions and constitutions supported freedom of speech, many religious organizations and fundamentalist institutions curtailed it. One such example is the Catholic Church. In 1501 Pope Alexander VI issued a List of Prohibited Books. Those censored books included the writings of well-respected scientists and philosophers including Rene Descartes, Galileo Galilei, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire. Voltaire’s belief is shared by his biographer Evelyn Hall in these words: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Noam Chomsky, the American linguist and political philosopher, shared his view on freedom of speech: “If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don’t like.”
Many Canadians are unaware that a blasphemy law is still present in the Canadian Criminal Code. This year many atheists and agnostics, humanists and human rights activists are signing a petition to send to Ottawa requesting the Canadian government to remove that law from the Canadian Criminal Code. They believe that such a law is in conflict with the values of secularism and democracy that Canadians value and cherish.
Text: Solveig Hansen
How do you put the theory of peace into practice? This is the question FREE PEN asks in the article below.
IFLAC members show how this can be done through words. Among our members we find poets, writers and musicians. Each in their own individual way, they promote peace. Just to give you a few examples from IFLAC Latin America, our most active branch:
Among their individual achievements are Elías Galati’s poetry contest for children (Argentina), and Joseph Berolo’s Naciones Unidas de las Letras (Columbia). The leading ladies of IFLAC in Latin America, María Cristina Azcona and Susana Roberts, are writers and poets. Héctor José Corredor Cuervo (Columbia) wrote Constructores de Paz (Builders of Peace), that has become the IFLAC hymn in Latin America, sung by Henry Angarita. Listen to it while you continue reading:
In this article, FREE PEN outlines the principles of peace education and introduces IFLAC as an educational concept for furthering peace through literature and art.
IFLAC, from theory to the practice of peace
By FREE PEN, 2015
Practice together the peace does not mean to transmit made solutions, but continue a participatory and shared commitment to peace based on a collaborative learning process.
An education by “workable peace” of three elements:
- The transfer of skills on peace: the causes of peace and conflict, awareness of its capabilities and possibilities, principles and presuppositions of social and international peace.
- The acquisition and dissemination capacity to act peacefully: the ability to find solutions and to manage conflicts individually, developing personal strength and self-confidence.
- Learning and preparation for peaceful political and autonomous action: influence decisions and political developments in local, state or international, transnational action capabilities.
The necessity of confronting the phenomena related to conflict and violence. The pedagogy of peace should refer to conflict of critical reflection on national myths to the development of injuries due to violence and conflict, to overcome prejudice and create enemies, the development of tolerance and inter-cultural skills (especially in situations etnico-political conflicts). In addition to teaching peace is linked to democratic participation, analysis and use of new media capabilities.
The fundamental principles of peace education: the link between micro and macro systems, holistic approach, the ability to know how to change points of view, the differentiation between the various concepts of peace, a critical idea of violence, the ability to think with alternatives, ability to self-reflection, developing visions and perspectives for the future, non-violence, a long-term perspective, an ability to put into perspective depending on the context and situation, consistency between the means, methods and objectives.
Consideration practices “IFLAC” as an educational concept. For example, IFLAC is a concept that has developed in recent years, particularly in projects of peace through literature and art. This concept refers to an education able to overcome national interests, understand the overall social developments and policies, develop teaching skills.
The new objectives are to provide a global vision to develop the individual to be aware of the influence of distant events and finally the destruction of stereotypes and prejudices. IFLAC aims to develop a participatory learning process intended to last a lifetime.
An important part of education for peace based on international security and civil coexistence. The acquisition of new languages and new social skills more appropriate to the globalized world are also part of IFLAC.
In specific sections dedicated to the violence, conflict and peace, IFLAC will present teaching tools and reflection to approach the study of the causes that lead to escalation of the conflict and violence. Each section is divided into two parts: knowledge and methodical and didactic reflections.
The part dedicated to knowledge has the purpose of introducing the theme. The second aims to raise awareness and contribute to the development of a critical vision. In the second part, IFLAC also presents tips for courses in schools using the proposed learning materials.
Having demonstrated the importance of theater, poetry, literature and music as means of expression and reconciliation, IFLAC offers several kinds of “good practice” internationally.
Is a killing-free world possible? Yes, says the Center for Global Nonkilling.Established in 1988, the mission of the Hawaii-based Center for Global Nonkilling is to “promote change toward the measurable goal of a killing-free world in reverence for life.” Prof. Glenn D. Paige is the founder and former president of the center. He dreams of the day “when human beings will develop peace consciousness and killing other human beings will become a matter of the past.”
This article is written by Dr. Khalid Sohail, IFLAC Peace Ambassador for India and Pakistan.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF NONKILLING
“Everyone can be A Center for Global Nonkilling.” Glenn Paige
One afternoon, when I was working in my Creative Psychotherapy Clinic in Canada, I received an unexpected email from Glenn Paige. He mentioned that he had read my book, Prophets of Violence, Prophets of Peace, and wanted to correspond with me. I had never heard his name but when I went to the internet and googled him, I found out that he was a political scientist who had a special interest in world peace and had created an international organization for global nonviolence. I became quite intrigued by his philosophy and called him in Hawaii. On the phone he talked like a kind, caring and compassionate man. He promised to send me his book titled Nonkilling Global Political Science and I promised to send him my new book From Holy War to Global Peace. Since that connection we have been corresponding with each other.
When I read his book I was impressed by his personality and philosophy, his knowledge and experience, especially his wisdom. I realized that while Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. were the philosophers of non-violence, Glenn Paige is the philosopher of non-killing. The more I read the writings of Paige, the more I became impressed by his humility and sincerity, integrity and optimism. He dreams of the day when human beings will develop peace consciousness and killing other human beings will become a matter of the past. Paige’s book has already been translated in more than twenty languages so that people from different communities, countries and cultures can connect and create a peaceful world together.
In his book Nonkilling Global Political Science Paige asks a question: “Is a nonkilling global society possible?” He shares the reasons why many people think that it is not possible and then shares his own convincing arguments why he thinks it is possible.
Paige starts the book with his definition of a nonkilling society in these words, “It is a human community, smallest to largest, local to global, characterized by no killing of humans and no threats to kill; no weapons designed to kill humans and no justifications for using them; and no conditions of society dependent upon threat or use of killing for maintenance or change.” (Ref. 1, p. 1)
Paige shares why so many people, professionals as well as lay people, psychologists as well as sociologists, scientists as well as philosophers believe that creating a nonkilling society is not possible. Their reasons range from biological instincts to psychological upbringing to cultural conditioning. In support of their hypothesis they present human history which is full of bloodshed and stories of battlefields. They believe that since human beings have been killing in the past, they will keep on killing in the future. The only difference would be that the reasons for killing would change. Throughout history there have been many philosophers and politicians who believed that violence and killing was essential for the safety and security of the people especially to protect innocent men, women and children from murderers and psychopaths. In the past human beings have killed so many other human beings for personal and social, religious and political reasons. Human beings have killed other human beings with knives and bullets, tanks and bombs, nuclear weapons as well as other weapons of mass destruction.
When we study human history, we learn that human beings have been killing other human beings at small and large scales. In World War 2 alone, more than 60 million human beings were killed. From 1900 to 1987, the number of deaths by democide (state killing their own people) and war have been phenomenal.
Democide: 169,198,000 deaths
War: 34,021,000 deaths
Total: 203,219,000 deaths
(Ref. 1, p. 16)
Based on all these facts and figures there are many people who feel so pessimistic that they say “No example of a nonkilling society is known in history, it is simply unthinkable.” (Ref. 1, p. 18) They believe it is not possible to create a nonkilling society.
Glenn Paige, being an eternal optimist says to all of these pessimistic people, “It’s not possible, but it’s possible to become possible.” (Ref. 1, p. 20) Paige gives a series of arguments to support his optimistic view, that one day human beings will be able to create a peaceful, nonviolent and nonkilling world. The following are just a few of his arguments:
- Most human beings never kill in their lives.
- Even if human beings are born with aggressive instincts they can be modified by social and cultural conditioning and human beings can learn to become peaceful adults.
- There are more and more countries that are abolishing death penalties.
- There are many countries in the world that have decided to have no armies.
- There are a number of nonviolent organizations who are promoting peace.
- Some religions and cultures are against killing, for exp Sixth Commandment says, “Thou shalt not kill.”
- There are a number of religious, spiritual and cultural groups, like Pacifist Quakers, who have divorced violence and embraced peace.
- Studies have shown that nearly 85% of soldiers in World War 1 and 2 did not fire and did not kill even when they were in the battlefield and had an opportunity to kill.
- There have been a number of political leaders like Mohandas Gandhi in India, Abdul Ghaffar Khan in Pakistan and Martin Luther King Jr. in America who were in favor of resolving conflicts peacefully and were against violence and killing.
- There have been social, religious and political leaders in every community, country and culture who have been promoting peace.
Glenn Paige ends his book by making a strong statement against killing and in favor of peace. He writes,
“The goal of ending lethality in global life implies a shift from violence-accepting political science to the science of nonkilling responsiveness to human needs for love, well-being, and the free expression of creative potential.
Is a nonkilling society possible?
Is a nonkilling global political science possible?
(Ref. 1, p. 162)
I feel proud to be connected with Glenn Paige’s philosophy as we both share the dream of a peaceful world and hope that more and more human beings share that dream so that we can create a peaceful world together, hopefully sooner than later.
Paige Glenn Nonkilling Global Political Science
Centre for Global Nonviolence Hawaii 2007
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Since my childhood I witnessed prejudice even in modern progressive families, particularly on educating the girl child. I was born in such an atmosphere, and through my interactions during my work in different villages, my observation was further strengthened: girls are excluded from schools.
I was born into a moderate Muslim family in a place called Bijnore, India, an area with a high Muslim population. This is a place where young girls were not allowed to go to school – not even primary school. I was privileged though that my parents moved to Delhi, India’s capital, when I was just an infant. This meant that I was able to attend school and get an education, something I may not have been able to do in my parent’s town.
We went back to Bijnore every summer to visit friends and family. And soon the realization that my female cousins…
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So here we stand once again before the gates of Auschwitz. Seventy years ago the Russian army liberated this camp. What, we might ask, did they first experience as they approached the gates emblazoned with the unforgettable motif Arbeit Macht Frei?
Bodies were stacked in places ten feet high; young children, clothed in rags, stumbled from the barracks, emaciated skeletons; Young men and women, some…
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Text: Solveig Hansen
They brought dishonour to their families and had to die. Why? Because they refused to accept an arranged marriage, they wanted to choose their own partners and started dating young men, or they were raped. Every year, thousands of innocent women are killed. In this article, Canadian-based Dr. Khalid Sohail looks at some of the reasons behind this abominable practice. Dr. Sohail is the IFLAC Peace Ambassador for India and Pakistan.
Honour Killings of Women
By Khalid Sohail
There are killings and there are honour killings.
There are killings by your rival tribes and there are killings by your family members.
There are murders by your enemies and there are murders by your relatives.
There are murders by people who hate you and there are murders by people who supposedly love you.
Honour killings are one of the most psychologically complex, sociologically complicated, morally distressing and legally challenging violent crimes against humanity. Such crimes have been happening throughout history all over the world in many communities, countries and cultures. In honour killings victims are mostly women and murderers are mostly men—whether fathers, brothers, husbands or sons.
The term “honour killing” was introduced by a Dutch scholar from Turkish background in 1978 to separate such killings from other kinds of killing in the families and communities.
Human Rights Watch states, “Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonour upon the family.”
REASONS GIVEN BY THE FAMILIES
One of the important factors to understand the dynamics of honour killings is to focus on the reasons families give to justify killing their beloved daughters. When I reviewed their stories I came up with five main reasons.
The first reason given by the families was that girls did not accept arranged marriages. Families wanted to decide the future of their daughters and when daughters challenged their decision and refused to follow their dictates, family members felt insulted and humiliated and killed their daughters.
The second reason presented was that young women had started dating young men and wanted to choose their own partners. Such an act was perceived as rebellion from family traditions. They wanted their daughters to break up their romantic relationships and agree to forced marriages and when they did not, they were murdered.
The third reason of killing was that the woman was raped. Rather than being sympathetic to the victim the families felt humiliated. The situation got worse when the woman became pregnant. Many single mothers were so scared of their families that they abandoned their children born outside the wedlock. One such child was left outside the mosque and when people came out of the mosque in Pakistan, they stoned the child to death, considering the innocent child, a product of sin.
The fourth reason offered by the families was that their daughter wanted to leave her husband. Even when the husband was abusive and violent, families did not want their daughter to get divorce and when she insisted she was killed.
The fifth reason given by a maulana, a cleric in Saudi Arabia was that the woman was chatting with a stranger on Facebook. That was considered good enough reason to kill her. The maulana accused Facebook for destroying the moral fabric of society.
In all these cases women were not allowed to talk, meet or date men. Their life and relationships with men were controlled by their families and every step towards independence was perceived as a threat to family honour. Women were pressured and intimidated to become obedient and passive and were expected to surrender their will. In these families independent minds and personalities of women were never encouraged, cherished and supported. How sad!