Sunday, 10 May 2015

Life in Syria for Christians: teaching
 tolerance and harmony among the faithful

"My colleague, Salam Al-Haddad, jumped in. He’s a Sunni Damascus native who has been volunteering at Zaatari since fleeing Syria two years ago. He asked the kids if they knew the story of the Caliph Omar. They shook their heads.
He told them how the Caliph Omar, the second caliph of Islam, made his way to Jerusalem to sign a peace treaty that said, “… the inhabitants of Jerusalem are granted security of life and property. Their churches and crosses shall be secure. This treaty applies to all people of the city. Their places of worship shall remain intact. These shall neither be taken over nor pulled down. People shall be quite free to follow their religion. They shall not be put to any trouble.”
So, Salam asked them, if the Caliph Omar wanted to protect Christians and their places of worship, shouldn’t we want to do the same?
The kids stared back at Salam and me, a Muslim and a Christian standing there side by side. I waited as our message sunk in. They seemed to be absorbing the idea that Syria could in fact belong to both Muslims and Christians.
“Now who wants to rebuild both a Mosque and a church in our arts activity to rebuild Syria?” I asked. They jumped from their seats and gathered in small circles around the art supplies I had laid out for them on the floor as they shouted “Me! Me!” I looked at them pass around markers, glue sticks and cardboard while planning the design of their “new town.” "

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