sexta-feira, 29 de novembro de 2013


Global Research, November 27, 2013

Here’s what it looks like when a respected reporter tweets about his blackmail note to an established anti-war organization regarding the organization’s upcoming conference in a tweet on November 15:

I’ve informed organizers of @STWuk that I will not participate in their conference if Mother Agnes is on the platform.

— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) 15 Novembre 2013

The reporter is Jeremy Scahill, who was booked as the keynote speaker and to show his film “Dirty Wars” (based on his book “Dirty Wars”) at the November 30 International Anti-War Conference in London, put on by Stop the War Coalition (STWuk), which was first organized in 2001 in opposition to an American attack on Iraq. More than 12 years later, the coalition notes dryly on its webpage for the conference, “We need more effective anti war resistance internationally. This conference is a chance to analyse, build links and lay plans.”

Scahill’s threat to boycott the conference soon became moot the following day, when the dreaded Mother Agnes withdrew from participation. Her letter read, in part:

“It has come to my attention that my participation in your conference has become a matter of serious contention, even prompting some other speakers to consider withdrawing. This is apparently due to a campaign of cruel and unsubstantiated accusations which seek to work against my efforts and those of the Musalaha (Reconciliation) Initiative in Syria.

“The basis of our work toward peace is reconciliation and forgiveness. This means extending an olive branch to
some who may initially refuse it, and accepting an olive branch from others who are despised, even by our friends....

“Some may feel that an injustice will be done if I speak at your conference. Others may think that injustice will be done if I do not. Because my participation in your conference may be used by some to distract from your valuable efforts towards peace, non-violence and reconciliation, I believe it best to withdraw from participation.”

Why did Stop the War invitation to nun working to stop war raise objections?
Push comes to shove, and Mother Agnes is an apparent pushover. She’s also not flogging a movie. And the abuse she’s suffered online was as real as the pressure on Scahilll and others to have nothing to do with her. It’s hard to find any evidence that Mother Agnes has committed anything worse than what others consider thought-crimes and politically incorrect observations, some of which are actually correct.

Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross is a Carmelite nun and mother superior of the Monastery of James the Mutilated in Qara, Syria, which has a community of three monks and twelve nuns. Born in Lebanon in a refugee camp 61 years ago, she is Palestinian on her father’s side and has worked in Syria for about 20 years. She is the spokesperson for the Catholic Information Center in Beirut, where the Musalaha Initiative also has its office. Mother Agnes became a nun at 19, after several years in the late 1960s as a self-styled “hippie,” traveling to Europe, India and Tibet. Unlike others with an equally public profile, Mother Agnes has no Wikipedia page.

In June 2012, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire praised Mother Agnes as a peacemaker:

“In her community her voice has been clear, pure and loud. And it should be so in the West. Like many people in Syria she has been placed in life threatening situations, but for the sake of peace she has chosen to risk her own existence for the safety and security of others. She has spoken out against the lack of truth in our media regarding Syria and about the terror and chaos which a ‘third force’ seems to be spreading across the country. Her words confront and challenge us because they do not mirror the picture of events in Syria we have built up in our minds over many months of reading our newspapers and watching the news on our televisions. Much of the terror has been imported, we learn from her. She can tell us about the thousands of Christian refugees, forced to flee their homes by an imported Islamist extreme.”

What makes her controversial to people around Stop the War Coalition is their perception of her as a supporter of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. Clear reasoning behind this perception is hard to come by. The reality for Christians in Syria is that their choice of friends is limited: the government represses them along with everyone else, but some rebel groups have taken to massacring Christians. With rebel groups numbering 1,000 or more, none is likely to be a reliable protector.

Mother Agnes’s heretical view of the Damascus chemical attack
In August 2013, when the world learned of the still murky chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb, Mother Agnes questioned the prevailing western view that the Assad government carried out the attack. She prepared a 50-page report questioning the authenticity of videos of the aftermath and submitted her findings to the United Nations Human Rights Council. As the New York Times of September 21 reported:

“When Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, wanted to bolster his argument that rebels had carried out the poison gas attacks near Damascus on Aug. 21, he pointed to the work of a 61-year-old Lebanese-born nun who had concluded that the horrifying videos showing hundreds of dead and choking victims, including many children, had been fabricated ahead of time to provide a pretext for foreign intervention.
“’Mr. Lavrov is an intelligent person,’ said the nun, Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross, with a wide smile in a recent interview in this Lebanese mountain town. ‘He will never stick his name to someone who is saying stupidities.’”

Taking a position on the chemical attacks that is supportive of the Assad government has led to intensified criticism of Mother Agnes as an Assad pawn. French reporters have written a book accusing her of conspiring with the government to kill another French reporter in 2012. She has sued the authors for libel.

The Syrian uprising started with peaceful protests in March 2011, but soon turned violent. Mother Agnes accuses the West of fomenting the violence to create a pretext for military intervention and re-ordering Syria. In November 2011, she wrote an open letter to President Assad, challenging the government over its treatment of hospital patients and prisoners, as reported in Vatican Insider in November 2011:

“Dear Mr. President, I have lived and worked in Syria since 1994, and I have learned to esteem the unique position Syria holds in the world of culture and of religions. But I am shocked to learn from Amnesty International that in the hospitals run by the government the wounded suffer discrimination and maltreatment because of their ideology. And I am saddened to find that, in the prisons, there are people there who have never been tried in court, or even accused of anything.... I ask for a serious inquiry into the hospitals and prisons, under the supervision of the International Red Cross, together with the creation of a committee to accelerate the exercise of justice.”

In late October, Mother Agnes, through the Musalaha Initiative, was involved in establishing a cease-fire and evacuating some 5,400 civilians from Moadamiya, a rebel-held city near Damascus.

Mother Agnes is currently on a six-week speaking tour in North America, largely ignored by most media. In Cleveland on November 14, she received a special peace award from the mayor, a congressman, and a senator. The tour ends December 4.

Jeremy Scahill has yet to explain his own behavior, but columnist Neil Clark, writing for Russia Today, blames “liberal hawks and neo-cons” for silencing the nun because:

“Mother Agnes’ testimony reveals that the so-called ‘War on Terror’ is a sham – that in Syria, the western countries and their regional allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, are on the same side as the extremist Islamic terror groups that we are told are our greatest enemies.”



La carta de la Madre Agnes-Mariam al presidente Assad

20 noviembre 2011, Vatican Insider

Giorgio Bernardelli

"Excelentísimo Presidente, vivo y trabajo en Siria desde 1994, he aprendido a apreciar la posición única revestida por Siria en el mundo de las culturas y de las religiones. Pero me siento turbada por la información que llega de Amnesty International, según la cual en los hospitales administrados por el gobierno los heridos están expuestos a malos tratos a causa de su ideología.  Y me ha entristecido la constatación de que, en las prisiones, hay personas sin proceso a las que ni siquiera se les imputa ningún cargo".
Estas palabras son de una monja árabe que vive en Siria desde 1994: la madre Agnès-Mariam de la Croix, que las ha escrito en una carta enviada a Bashar al-Assad, publicada en el diario libanés L'Orient Le Jour. Las palabras estaban acompañadas por una solicitud precisa dirigida al presidente sirio: "En el ámbito del diálogo que usted  ha lanzado –escribe la religiosa- le pido que abra una investigación seria en los hospitales y en las prisiones, bajo la supervisión de la Cruz Roja Internacional, además de la creación de un comité que acelere el ejercicio de la justicia".

Por lo tanto, parece que algo se está moviendo en la comunidad cristiana siria que hasta este momento había dado principalmente voz al miedo y a la perplejidad a propósito de la "primavera árabe" de Damasco. Una posición que deriva de la difícil situación de quien hasta este momento -incluso en un régimen seguramente no democrático como el de Assad- había de todos modos podido gozar de una sustancial libertad. Y ahora en Homs escucha los eslóganes de las manifestaciones encabezadas por los islamistas, eslóganes como "los alawíes a la tumba, los cristianos a Líbano". Temen que se materialice también en Siria la pesadilla vivida por los cristianos iraquíes (sus vecinos) con la caída de Saddam Hussein. Una preocupación a la que incluso el patriarca maronita Bechara Rai -que desde Líbano sigue muy de cerca la evolución de la situación en Siria- había dado voz de manera abierta hace algunas semanas durante su viaje a Francia, evocando el espectro de un conflicto de religiones en Damasco.

La mayor objeción que hasta ahora se ha puesto (sobre todo en Occidente) a esta posición de los cristianos ha sido, que de este modo se defiende un régimen como el de Assad, que está asesinando y cometiendo graves violaciones contra los derechos humanos durante la represión de las protestas. No es una casualidad, por lo tanto, que precisamente sobre este tema, llegue en este momento la iniciativa pública de la madre Agnès-Mariam de la Croix, igumena (es decir, priora) del monasterio de Santiago Mutilado de Qâra, que se encuentra a noventa kilómetros de Damasco. La religiosa no minimiza en absoluto los temores de la comunidad cristiana: precisamente ella, entre otras cosas, durante los pasados meses escribió algunos artículos mostrando su aflicción, con el objetivo de denunciar la "mistificación de la realidad" a propósito de todo lo que está sucediendo en Siria y poner en guardia contra las fuerzas islámicas que están fomentando la guerra civil. En uno de estos textos -- publicado en la página web de la Fundación Oasis de Venecia -- también daba a conocer las narraciones detalladas de los cristianos de Homs que hablaban de la presencia entre los revoltosos de "extranjeros de nacionalidad iraquí, libanesa y egipcia, armados y dotados de teléfonos satelitales Thuraya». Esto, sin embargo, no justifica una represión sanguinaria; por ello la iniciativa de la carta abierta al presidente sirio. Basada en una actitud muy clara: "Con la evolución de los acontecimientos --sigue escribiendo la madre Agnès-Mariam-- nuestra posición será siempre la de una solidaridad total con los más pequeños, con los pobres y con los oprimidos".

La igumena del monasterio de Qâra es una voz muy interesante en el difícil panorama sirio. Hija de palestinos huidos de Nazaret en 1948, la madre Agnès-Mariam nació en Líbano en un campo de prófugos. Todavía en su adolescencia, en la Beirut de finales de los años 60 ("aquella en la que encontraba el cannabis de mejor calidad", cuenta) se une también ella a los hijos de las flores y viaja por Europa. Hasta que en Copenhague se encuentra dentro de una iglesia católica y da inicio a un camino que en 1971 le llevará a entrar en el Carmelo de Beirut. Advierte, sin embargo, que su trayecto todavía no está completo: hasta que -durante los años Ochenta, mientras restaura un icono que había sufrido daños durante la guerra que hizo derramar tanta sangre en Líbano- descubrió detrás de la imagen de la Virgen una representación de la Iglesia de Antioquía. Parece una revelación: inicia a estudiar la historia de las antiguas comunidades cristianas siriacas. Y en 1994 -con el consenso de la madre superiora y del obispo local- se traslada a Qâra, en Siria, para hacer que un antiguo monasterio del siglo VI que yace abandonado, recobre vida. Una reconstrucción que significa también el retorno a los orígenes, con una comunidad monástica que con espíritu ecuménico fue dedicada a la Unidad de Antioquía reuniendo a religiosas y religiosos de diversos ritos e Iglesias Cristianas.  Todo ello en un lugar que- con sus iconos y su espiritualidad- se ha convertido en un punto de referencia para muchos en todo el mundo: tan sólo en el 2010, este lugar para el espíritu, ha sido visitado por veinticinco mil personas.

La carta abierta de madre Agnès-Mariam a Bashar al-Assad llegó precisamente la víspera de una importante cita para los católicos de Medio Oriente: desde el lunes 14 hasta el jueves 17 en Beirut, tuvo lugar el encuentro del Consejo de Patriarcas Católicos de Oriente, el organismo que reúne a los jefes de las Iglesias Orientales Católicas (los patriarcas cristianos melquitas, siriacos, maronitas, coptos, caldeos y armenios, además del latino de Jerusalén). Un encuentro que tuvo lugar un año después del Sínodo para Medio Oriente y cuya agenda estaba obligada a incluir en un lugar destacado la situación de los cristianos en Siria, que actualmente es la más delicada de la región, y que sin duda puede tener repercusiones sobre el frágil equilibrio del Líbano.


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