- 20 آيار 2022
- أقلام مقدسية
By Mazin Saleem Nahas
The Palestinian Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed last Wednesday while covering clashes between the Israeli army and Palestinians in Jenin. Almost a week has passed and still a deluge of comments and statements are posted on social media all over the world. Some have paid tribute and praised the late journalist while others refused to honor or express any form of reverence for her under the pretext that she was Christian. In fact, I care less for those who refused to show mercy and compassion because of their fanatic Salafi Islamic beliefs; they read their Holy Koran but do not understand what they read, and they do not make any effort to understand it. But the thousands of mourners who went out in Abu Akleh’s funeral procession did not think like the Salafists. They believed that religion is for God only and that the homeland and good deeds are for all. The mourners were from different faiths, and they walked in the funeral hand in hand in religious tolerance and harmony.
The mourners shared the religion of unified nationalism and ideology. The practices of the Israeli military and police was unjust and brutal. Palestinians and internationals went out in the funeral procession were not concerned to which religion the deceased journalist belonged; they had their own religion and she had hers. But they all embraced the religion of nationalism, humanitarianism, and loyalty to Palestine.
As a gesture from Akko and Haifa Patriarchate, Archbishop Youssef Matta asked the parish priests to hold mass in memory of Shireen Abu Akleh. This was a blessed gesture not only because the late journalist was Christian, but also on the grounds that she was martyred for telling the truth. She devoted many years of her life telling stories about ordinary Palestinians and became a household name across the Arab worlds. The huge number of testimonies of the good deeds she had done to Palestinians, old and young, Christians and Muslims, are now being revealed after her death. Those testimonies demonstrate the love and respect people have for her.
Amid the deluge of comments and denunciations I looked for Your Holiness, dear Pope!
Six days have passed since the funeral and I have not read or heard any reaction or comment from Your Holiness. Before I go on with what I have to say, I ask for your pardon if you have already denounced or protested the sad incident and I have missed it. Perhaps your prayers and the actions of the Vatican took place in secret, but publicity in this regard is necessary not only for the sake of the martyred journalist, but also for the sake of her people, their aspirations, hopes and expectations from world leaders. In addition, the Vatican has a central role to carry out in global politics, especially from the standpoint that it sides with the weak and the oppressed.
Shireen Abu Akleh was a symbol and icon of a nation and she should be given her due and be mentioned in your prayers. She sanctified her cause and her people sanctified her. Have you not said, Your Holiness, that “sanctity does not consist of some heroic actions but of a lot of love in our daily life.” Abu Akleh acted heroically and loved her people. She deserves and has the right to be honored by Your Holiness even with a prayer. Her right also has become the right of her people and the Church has broad experience in honoring martyrs.
In the recent past, Your Holiness have kissed the feet and shoes of Sudanese leaders for the sake of achieving peace. You pity Sri Lankans and the children of Ukraine, and you condemn Russia even though the Vatican has no interest in the war. You have forgotten the Holy Land, Jesus’ Tomb, Bethlehem Grotto, and the Via Dolorosa.
Or are the Christians of the East not among your considerations or not on your agenda? Yes, we read about via dolorosa in the Holy Bible and today we have witnessed true agony in Abu Akleh’s martyrdom. Your Holiness, does not the scene of Israeli soldiers beating the bearers of the hearse remind you of Jesus being flagellated and falling down as he was carrying his heavy cross in the Via Dolorosa? The cross was too heavy and the flagellation was too painful that Simon the Cyrene was called upon to carry the cross. Does not the falling hearse of Abu Akleh remind you of Jesus falling on his way to Golgotha?
The bells of the churches tolled and their sound reached Rome saying “we are here and our voice is the voice of the oppressed; we are calling for help and perhaps someone will hear our call.” You have forgiven the Jews for what they had done in the past and acquitted them of the blood of Christ believing that the children are not to blame for the fault of their fathers and what they have committed against Jesus! Of course, there is a difference between the behavior of the fathers and their children. But why is this condoning of what they did to Abu Akleh which is but a miniature of what is happening in Palestine?
Where is your voice, Your Holiness? Where are you clergymen and heads of churches in the enlightened West? You have colluded so much that your status and words have become worthless. Why have you not kissed the shoes of the Israelis or even the palms of their hands to stop them from desecrating the holy places in Jerusalem and Palestine, and help the return of Palestinian refugees especially Christians?
Your Holiness have said in your message on the World Refugee Day that we are all invited to renew our commitment to building a future responsive to God’s plan for the world in which all peoples can live in peace and dignity. How can this take place when people, such as the Palestinian people, are being displaced from their homes?
In order to accept the idea of eternal life we must have a life on earth where stability prevails and in which we can sing the praises of a heavenly life. Are the displaced Palestinians from the village of Iqret, Birem and other villages part of your prayers?
Is not this Holy Land the reason why you exist in this world? Does not the Palestinian people deserve to be among your considerations and interests like Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Sudan, and others?
I would have liked to log onto the Vatican News website in all languages and see a denunciation or at least a demand for an investigation like other countries did, not from a Christian point of view, even though the Vatican journalist is affiliated with the Presidency of the Catholic Church, but because the event deserves at least a word, a tweet or a sentence from the Vatican, which I believe has a central position in the global scene. Or is it that West and east cannot meet? Unfortunately, your complicity is scary! We are afraid of you for our future as Arabs and as Christians in the Holy Land, whose sanctity has been desecrated and may disappear after these weak and humiliating attitudes.