Standing Together in a World Divided Consultation – Bangkok

Dr. PAMELA CHRABIEH’S video conference has been screened a few days ago in Bangkok – Thailand.

STANDING TOGETHER IN A WORLD DIVIDED – Consultation developed by the Presbyterian World Mission and the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), (PCUSA).
Bangkok – Thailand, November 1-6, 2019.
The paper will be available in due time (“Christian Responses in Western Asia: Case Studies”).

Full video here.

Towards Inclusive Societies in the Middle East International Conference

“Towards Inclusive Societies in the Middle East”
Ayia Napa, Cyprus, October 31 – November 2, 2019) full report by Karis Ailabouni:


“Inclusive societies based on equal rights remain at a distance as the Middle East continues to face radicalized religious and political movements. In light of this, Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture and the Christian Academic Forum for Citizenship in the Arab World (CAFCAW) organized its fifth international conference entitled, “Towards Inclusive Societies in the Middle East”, held in Cyprus from October 31 to November 2, 2019. The conference gathered 47 scholars, activists, and experts from around the world with the aim of stimulating critical dialogue on the factors that hinder equitable societies in the region. In an effort to practice inclusion, 29 (61%) of the conference participants were women, while 9 (19%) were youth under the age of 35. In addition, participants came from diverse national backgrounds. The majority hailed from the region, namely Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and UAE. However, participants also joined from the USA, Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, and the UK. The conference provided also a forum for Arab scholars from the diaspora to connect to their peers from the region. The forum’s diversity of participation inspired an unparalleled interdisciplinary, ecumenical, and interreligious discussion, through which participants could explore issues from multiple perspectives.

Following a welcome dinner on October 31, the event consisted of eight sessions and 22 paper presentations over two days. Sessions I and II provided a theoretical framing of inclusivity in political and theological terms. This led into sessions III and IV, which tackled gender justice as a critical form of inclusivity. On day 2, the morning consisted of two sets of parallel sessions. The first contextualized inclusivity through specific insights from Lebanon and Egypt, while the second brought unique interdisciplinary approaches to the theme- from philosophy, to germ theory, to natural resource management.

The conference also made space to include a flash panel on the revolution currently unfolding in Lebanon. As a scholarly forum rooted in everyday realities, it was necessary to include this session given its relevance to the themes of the conference and to the sociopolitical context of the region at large. Lebanese participants shared their diverse perspectives from the ground, reflecting on the opportunities and challenges of the revolution as a platform for people to affect social and political change.

Several important themes emerged from the discussions surrounding these sessions. Firstly, the bondage of minoritization and sectorization in the Middle East poses a challenge to inclusive societies. Through histories of colonialism and authoritarianism, Christians have been constructed to think of themselves as minorities and, therefore, inherently disempowered. This phenomenon calls for a radically inclusive, popular theology that rejects sectarianism.

Inclusivity, then, requires societies in the Middle East to learn from local history so that they might deconstruct oppressive power systems inherited from colonialist and authoritarian regimes. Rather than reproducing exclusivist modes of authority, there is an urgent need to build new social contracts that empower the participation of all people in public life. This necessitates not only the building of new political systems, but also a sociocultural shift in which people begin to understand political participation not as a privilege, but as an essential dimension of their being.

Therefore, there is a need to pursue a collective journey towards inclusive societies. This was brought to light in discussions tackling gender justice, as many women’s movements are already carving a place for themselves as equal citizens. For example, women are at the front lines of the revolution in Lebanon. Meanwhile, women Islamic activists in Palestine are challenging the dominant culture by studying Islam and building their religious practice. In addition, women in the Evangelical Church in Egypt are struggling to become ordained leaders in their church through subversive ministry. Youth in the Middle East are also actively excluded from participation in public life. Research presented in the conference showed youth’s growing disillusionment with their future. Although they are eager to better their own community, many feel they must ultimately go abroad to realize their dreams. The problematic of Arab youth and women’s exclusion calls for participatory processes that allow the marginalized in society to make their voices heard.

Finally, the conference concluded with a discussion of pressing topics that might be addressed in future conferences. The recommendations emphasized by participants included the following:

Public theology of the religious other
Liberation from exploitation and authoritarianism
Technology, Religion and virtual realities
The role of education in social change, peace, and reconciliation

CAFCAW executive committee decided to choose the theme of Education for the next year with a working title “The Future of Education in West Asia and North Africa: Education for the Future.”

The conference was utilized as a platform to launch Telos magazine (www.telosmagazine.org), a new online magazine with a focus on public theology.

In addition to the stimulating discussions that surrounded these sessions, one of the greatest successes of the conference occurred informally. Academics and activists from around the world were able to build new connections with one another, creating a network where ideas and experiences could be exchanged. As one participant noted, the conference succeeded in developing a community of scholars and practitioners. This allowed not only for rich and critical dialogue, but also opened endless possibilities for future”.

Concluding Remarks and Recommendations
Lebanon’s Revolution Panel
CAFCAW Executive Committee
Telos Wana Magazine Editorial Committee

CAFCAW Workshop – Towards an Inclusive Society in Lebanon?

Christian Academic Forum for Citizenship (CAFCAW) 4th workshop in Beirut-Lebanon. Hotel Monroe, September 28, 2019.

Introduction: Rev. Victor Makari and Ms. Maya Khadra.
Dr. Pamela Chrabieh – presentation: “What can be done to make our society more inclusive?”.
Mr. Alexandre Paulikevitch – testimonial: “The challenges of being a male choreographer in Lebanon”.
Mr. Cyril Badaoui – testimonial and presentation: “Talking about including people with mental health disorders”.
Ms. Maya Khadra – presentation: “About Instrumentalization of Minorities Narratives”.
Mr. Elie Elias – presentation: “Inclusiveness in Great Lebanon of 1920”.

“What can be done to make our society more inclusive?”
By Dr. Pamela Chrabieh

Positive vibes, fruitful dialogue, critical thinking, and a beautiful blend of identities united in their differences around a common goal: building a better inclusive society.

A Colored Day at Qalamoun North of Lebanon

Amazing day with the inhabitants of Qalamoun, shooting videos, interviewing “Qalamoun in colors” project’s beneficiaries, tasting authentic bread and lemonade, and enjoying the hospitality of the mayor and the locals.
“Qalamoun in colors” is a Cash for work employment project that focuses on the rehabilitation and beautification of the Qalamoun market and public spaces. It creates ownership as youth and the community are actively involved in the design and execution of the project, generates short-term income opportunities, and aims to strengthen community cooperation. Implemented by GIZ Local Development Programme for Urban Areas in North Lebanon  in partnership with Utopia Lebanon and the Municipality of Qalamoun through financial support of the European Union and Germany.
#eastlinedigital

Appel à une médecine d’urgence au Liban

“L’interdiction du concert de Mashrou’ Leila et la polémique qui fait rage depuis plusieurs jours sur les réseaux sociaux m’ont fait penser aux écrits de Mohammad Arkoun, éminent érudit algérien qui remit en question la cristallisation de plusieurs types de discours, notamment religieux.

Arkoun plaidait pour une pratique intellectuelle libre et libératrice, dans une perspective de dépassement dégagée des postulats dogmatiques, ce qui malheureusement est devenu une denrée rare au Liban.

En effet, face à la montée des fanatismes, l’exacerbation des identités meurtrières, le recul des libertés, la sacralisation de la politique et la radicalisation des discours et pratiques, on ne peut qu’appeler à promouvoir cette pensée en tant que médecine d’urgence : une pensée humaniste, ouverte au semblable et au différent, conviviale, incitant à l’écoute mutuelle, au respect et à la désinstrumentalisation du religieux lorsqu’il est à la merci – souvent de façon outrancière – des manipulations idéologiques.

Cette pensée aiderait une partie des Libanais à désapprendre ce qu’ils ont appris suite à des décennies de guerres et de propagation de la peur de l’autre. Désapprendre est un processus et une éducation visant la sortie du système d’exclusion mutuelle, en appliquant l’exercice de la « subversion », qui n’est nullement une destruction ou un rejet, mais qui essaye de comprendre le pourquoi et le comment des choses, de problématiser le canevas épistémologique articulant chaque discours et/ou expression (religieux, politique, littéraire, artistique, etc.).

N’est-il pas temps, en effet, de déconstruire – lorsqu’il le faut – les systèmes de construction du savoir prétendant détenir « la vérité » et offrir des effets de sens ? Et de poser les questions suivantes : jusqu’à quel point les Libanais sont-ils conscients des dimensions idéologiques de leurs discours et de leurs actions ? Quelles structures cognitives emploient-ils dans le but d’interpréter « leurs religions » ? Jusqu’à quel point développent-ils une relation critique entre leur passé et leur présent afin d’avoir un meilleur contrôle sur le futur, et comment cette relation pourrait-elle être effective et créatrice ?

En d’autres termes, nous avons besoin d’une archéologie de discours sédimentés et d’évidences sclérosées, afin de substituer au climat de méfiance et de dénigrement réciproques l’exigence d’une solidarité – voire d’une interpénétration –, en vue de l’exorcisation de la crainte de la perte du sens, de la ruine de l’identité et du crépuscule des valeurs, et afin de dépasser les systèmes de production du savoir, qu’ils soient religieux ou non, qui tentent d’ériger le local, l’historique contingent, l’expérience particulière en universel, en « transcendantal », en « sacré irréductible ».

L’objectif n’est pas de dévaloriser les religions ni les appartenances religieuses, mais d’y puiser ce qui pourrait favoriser l’éclosion de lectures et de pratiques renouvelées de la gestion des diversités au Liban, tout en opérant une ouverture aux discours et pratiques non religieux.

De ce fait, nous sommes appelés à nous engager dans le terrain de la complexité identitaire, à dépasser les frontières dites immuables entre individus et communautés, à sortir des ghettos, à être à l’écoute des attentes et des aspirations de toutes les composantes de la société, à transformer le regard sur l’autre afin qu’il soit dénué de tout projet d’autojustification et le regard sur soi-même pour qu’il ne se complaise pas dans des poncifs convenus”.

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh

L’Orient-le-Jour, Beyrouth, 01/08/2019

https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1181145/appel-a-une-medecine-durgence-au-liban.html

Jbail Capitale du Dialogue et de la Convivialité (Byblos, Liban)

Avec Sheikh Nokkari, P. Rai, et les convives du Mufti de Jbeil Sheikh Al-Laqis pour un iftar des plus généreux. Une occasion de célébrer la naissance de l’organisation non-gouvernementale “Jbail-Capitale du Dialogue et de la Convivialité” (J.C.D.C)
جبيل عاصمة الحوار والعيش المشترك