Syrian Religious Leader to Speak on the Civil War in Her Homeland

Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross will speak on the situation in Syria at a meeting hosted by Nebraskans for Peace and the Lincoln NFP Chapter. The Monday, November 18th program will be held in the west vestry room of First United Methodist Church, 2723 N. 50th St. (located near the Wesleyan Campus) starting at 7:00 p.m. Parking is available in the church parking lot as well as along the street. 

Mother Agnes Mariam's talk is sponsored by the Catholic Information Center in Beirut and the Syria Solidarity Movement in the United States.

A woman of Palestinian descent, she is the mother superior of the ancient monastery of St. James the Mutilated, considered to be the oldest monastery in the Qalamoun area of Syria. She is also the leader of the Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights in Syria. Mother Agnes Mariam has lived through several Middle Eastern wars. During the current crises in Syria, she and her monastery have helped those who have suffered from the conflict, giving shelter and assistance at the monastery to the needy without regard to religious or political affiliation. She and her colleagues have also reportedly rescued thousands of women and children in the besieged city of El -Sham Mouadamieh.

In her advocacy role, Mother Agnes Mariam has criticized the Syrian rebels for the brutality of their methods, and though she has often been a critic of the Syrian government, she also has challenged the rebel and U.S. claim that the government used sarin gas on civilians. Her challenge came after she closely examined the editing of the films purporting to show the gassing, an incident whose validity other groups have also subsequently challenged through an even closer analysis of the data (AP story, September 8, 2013, “Doubts linger over Syria gas attack responsibility”). Mother Agnes Mariam has been treated respectfully by Mairead Maguire, the Nobel Peace Prize winner from Ireland, by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and by the clergy and peace groups constituting the Mussalaha peace mission to Syria.

On the other hand, she has been dismissed as a tool of the Syrian government by U.S. media sources and criticized by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Other sources have called her a tool of the Russians. NFP is confident that she will provide helpful insights into the Syrian civil war, whether one agrees with her or not. Please come, listen and ask questions.

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