Mother Agnes Mariam

There are some key female figures involved in the debate surrounding Syria.  They include high profile people known in the West, such as Hilary Clinton, Susan Rice, Navi Pillay.  Another, who should be equally well-known, is Mother Agnes Mariam, an outspoken nun who set up a monastery nearly 20 years ago in Qara, outside the city of Homs.  In 2014, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire nominated Mother Agnes and the Mussalaha Peace and Reconciliation Movement in Syria for the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Excerpts of some articles and presentations by Mother Agnes are provided below as well as the links to the scources.

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Image: Mother Agnes Mariam, Melbourne Australia; June 2013; image taken by David MacIlwain

Updated 04 January 2015

MOTHER AGNES MARIAM

UPDATE ON THE SITUATION IN SYRIA:

Interview with Mother Agnes on SKYPE, 2 January 2015

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2 (2 January 2015)

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Interview with Mother Agnes Saturday 3 January 2015

1.  How can we support the schooling of children in impoverished communities?

2.  How do the sanctions against Syria impact on the Syrian people?

3.   Homs – Negotiations; Christians in the old city forced to flee; the battle of Baba Amr

4.  What is the purpose of the terror?

5. Who is funding and supporting the armed groups?

6. Could you report on any war crimes and massacres?

7.  Why are peace efforts not successful?

8.  The UN and ‘freezing’ the conflict

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Interview with Mother Agnes on SKYPE, 6 August 2014, parts 1-4

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YOUTUBE: “MOTHER AGNES MARIAM ON SHELLING OF SCHOOL”

BBC’s Lyse Doucet interviews Mother Agnes in Damascus,  15 April 2014. The interview was not broadcast by the BBC, but it was filmed and uploaded onto the internet by peace activist Eva Barlett.

This morning, “rebels” shelled a Damascus elementary school, killing one child and injuring at least 62 more, some of whom are critically-injured, some of whom lost limbs.  A second school–a kindergarten–was also shelled the same morning, in the same densely-inhabited Christian area of Damascus, injuring 3 more children.

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Mother Agnes Mariam: In Her Own Words

by Sharmine Narwani

American national security journalist Jeremy Scahill and leftist British columnist Owen Jones announced recently that they would not share a platform with a Palestinian-Lebanese nun at the Stop The War Coalition’s November 30 UK conference.

Neither Scahill nor Jones provided any reason for their harsh “indictment” of Mother Agnes Mariam, who has worked tirelessly for the past few years on reconciliation in war-torn Syria, where she has lived for two decades.

The journalists – neither of whom have produced any notable body of work on Syria – appear to have followed the lead of a breed of Syria “activists” who have given us doozies like “Assad is about to fall,” “Assad has no support,” “the opposition is peaceful,” “the opposition is unarmed,” “this is a popular revolution,” “the revolution is not foreign-backed,” “there is no Al Qaeda in Syria,” “the dead are mostly civilians,” and other such gems.

For some of these activists, anything short of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s departure is no solution of any kind. Mother Agnes Mariam, whose Mussalaha (Reconciliation) movement inside Syria works specifically on mediation, dialogue and the promotion of non-violence, is unmoved by black-and-white solutions: Reconciliation, after all, is a series of political settlements forged on both local and national levels. There are only compromises there, not absolute gain. She doesn’t actually care who leads Syria and who wins or loses, providing the choice comes from a Syrian majority.

Yet the smear “Assad apologist” persists in following Mother Agnes on her visits to foreign capitals to gain support for Massalaha and its methods. It puts her at risk on the ground in Syria and inhibits her ability to open communications with those who would otherwise welcome the relief she brings.

 To read the rest of the article, go to this link: http://mideastshuffle.com/2013/11/29/mother-agnes-mariam-in-her-own-words/

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Mother Agnes Discusses Evidence of Chemical Attack Videos Fabrication with al-Jadeed TV – Part 1

Mother Agnes Discusses Evidence of Chemical Attack Videos Fabrication with al-Jadeed TV – Part 2

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Video interview by Ireland’s RTE:

Broadcast on: August 10th, 2012

Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross, from Homs province, speaks about the Syrian conflict

http://www.rte.ie/news/player/2012/0810/3363784-mother-agnes-mariam-of-the-cross-from-homs-province-speaks-about-the-syrian-conflict/

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The following article was written by Mother Agnes around Easter 2011, just one month after the beginning of the crisis in Syria.  It is quite a lengthy document; the conclusion is presented below.

“In the Flood of Disinformation, the Situation in Syria”

.. I think that the solution lies in truth, love, solidarity and fidelity between the diverse elements of the Syrian family. For us Christians, it is in looking at Jesus, a Jew living under Roman occupation, who acts in transparency with his friends and his enemies that we find the inspiration to walk serenely in the midst of such a turbulent situation. Instead of demonizing one another let us try to understand each other. We all aspire for freedom, for concord, for democratic reforms to the benefit of humanity. Let us put our hands to action with justice and gentle kindness. Like the majority of the Syrians, we are opposed to the tendentious information which is insensitive to the real interests of the country.

Today, according to the observers, the zeal of the protestors has dropped by 85%. The repressiveness of the regime has not been condemned but rather the Syrian people are aware that the claims of opposition leaders served as a Trojan horse for the occult objectives of international powers. A peaceful and constructive dialogue seems to be the only option for real reform, one that is socially and democratically put forward by the Syrian people.

Easter reminds us that the saving Cross of Jesus Christ is the great revolution that alone builds the civilization of brotherhood, based on love of one’s enemies and the gift of oneself. Such is the power of the resurrection. We want to live it and to share it.

Mother Agnès-Mariam de la Croix
and the monastic community of the Unity of Antioch, Qara – Syria

http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.wordpress.com/mother-agnes-mariam-in-the-flood-of-disinformation-the-situation-in-syria/

The editor of this blog wrote a report on Syria after a visit to Damascus in April 2011. Much of that report supports Mother Agnes’ observations and conclusion.

Syria – Questions must be asked and answered

To develop a concerned and responsible understanding of what is happening in Syria today, questions that generally aren’t being posed must be.

1. The prominent Egyptian Islamic scholar, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a cleric with a huge following in the Middle East and North Africa and with links to the Muslim Brotherhood, has recently called on Sunni Muslims to rebel against the “Alawite regime” in Syria, “for Arabs to support protesters in Syria”. Two chants of demonstrators in Daraa have been, “No Hezbollah. No Iran. Syria for Muslims (read “Sunnis”)”, and “Send Christians to Beirut and kill Alawis.”  Syrian friends (mostly Sunnis but some Alawis and Christians as well – if that is relevant) have told me soldiers are being killed in cold blood, government workers as well. One friend who lives on the outskirts of Damascus rang me Easter Sunday to tell me that soldiers had been killed – targeted and shot – in his area and in the nearby military hospital.  The brother-in-law of a friend was shot and killed in his car along with his two children and nephew.  He wasn’t a “human rights activist”; he was an army officer. Are such killings related to Qaradawi’s call? …….

http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/97461/20130616-0003/pool.abc.net.au/media/syria-questions-must-be-asked-and-answered.html

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 Article: May 2012

“AN EXPERIENCE OF CURRENT LIFE IN SYRIA”

This report, written by Mother Agnes Mariam in May 2012 from the monastery she headed in Qara, presents an account of a very human perspective of the ‘revolution’ in Syria.  Presented below is the conclusion of the report.

The Patriarch finished in prayer: “Damascus, the oldest populated capital of the world, welcomed Saul the persecutor. Within Damascus’ walls he was transformed into Paul, the Apostle to the nations. Today Damascus is where we encounter those who are persecuted. With the help of heaven, the Risen Christ who rose from the dead and who is forever faithful with our distress, Damascus can once again become the place of a conversion that will change the world, of the interior transformation and of the great reconciliation. Lord, look upon us from heaven and act with your mercy, you O God, the Lover of mankind.”

These heartrending events must raise questions to all people of good will. Is it right for a country to be destabilized by an insurgency that refuses all dialogue, tends toward religious extremism, and reflects only a minority of the population? Is it acceptable for them to shelter outlaws who terrorize the population with bombings, mutilation of religious leaders, and kidnappings? A state without law is not a state. The consequences are dramatic for all the civilians. How can we stand by with our arms crossed?

http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.wordpress.com/mother-agnes-mariam-an-exerience-of-current-life-in-syria/

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Mother Agnes was interview by Waleed Aly on ABC RN Drive on Thursday JUNE 27, 2013.

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Mother Agnes-Mariam on backing the Syrian government

Mother Agnes-Mariam de la Croix is a Carmelite nun who has advised against countries like Australia arming Syrian rebels.

She was born in Lebanon to a Palestinian refugee, but has lived in Syria for the last 19 years.

Today, she is an international spokesperson for Syria’s multi-faith grassroots reconciliation movement, Mussalaha, and has an interesting take on how the conflict should be resolved.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/mother-agnes-mariam-on-backing-the-syrian-government/4786076

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Video interview on Australia’s ABC 24; Mother Agnes is interviewed by Jane Hutcheon

“External interference” complicating Syrian conflict

Posted Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:26pm AEST

Syrian peace activist Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross says foreign fighters are further complicating the situation in Syria.

Source: ABC News | Duration: 4min 11sec

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-20/external-interference-complicating-syrian-conflict/4769948

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Youtube video: Mother Agnes at St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, Hobart, Australia; October 2012

Mother Agnes Mariam on Syrian Secular Society

I think that the Syrian system is a … was a secular system; means the woman has the same opportunity as men in all the employment of the state. For example, the vice-president in Syria is a woman, Najah Al-Attar. In Damascus, we have the Forum of the Arabic Businesswoman, in every year, etcetera. So, the woman in the Arabic … in the Syrian system is enjoying the possibility of real liberation because the system is a liberal and secular system. Now, the danger of this so-called uprising is that very quickly, the liberal voices … the secular voices, have been completely put aside, and we are witnessing the hijacking of the uprising by Wahhabi movement. What is a Wahhabi movement? It is an alliance between philosophy of Islam and Saud monarchy. And this philosophy of Islam is a fundamentalistic one. It really reduces the horizons of Islam to a very narrow-minded, exclusive society where any difference is completely rejected.

OK, this uprising is promoting one side … one side picture of the society. It’s true that the Sunni component in Syria is … has the majority. You have 60% of Sunnis, but nobody has ever said that all the Sunnis aim, you know, to adopt a Wahhabi-like system. On the contrary, many times, real Sunnis, they stop me in the street, to tell me, ‘Please, Mother, please continue to say the truth. We don’t want Wahhabi rule’.

So, if … what is a democracy? I … I am not an expert, but I think that democracy is the judgement … or is the decision, the … the will of the people, and in each majority or in a consensus way. Do we have a majority in Syria? Do we … this process is really a democratic process? I don’t see it. I see that they are hijacking this uprising to impose a … a Wahhabi-like system and saying that this will be the future of Syria.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeK4w2Amvfo

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Youtube video: Mother Agnes at St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, Hobart, Australia; October 2012

Mother Agnes Mariam on Syrian Rejection of the Rebels

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARhfr7TewJY

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Youtube video: Mother Agnes at St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, Hobart, Australia; October 2012

Mother Agnes Mariam on Syrian Rebel Chaos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ifoDKybD-g

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Youtube video: Mother Agnes at St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, Hobart, Australia; October 2012

Mother Agnes Mariam on the Information War in Syria

(5 mins 30 secs)

 If this cause of the Arabic … of the Arabic Spring and more particularly the Syrian uprising, was a good cause, a just … a cause of justice, why should the mainstream media promote it with lies? One day we were watching the television and we saw on Al-Jazeera, tanks surrounding a suburb in Damascus; we are talking in the early 2011, around March-April 2011, so the very early days of the Syrian uprising. So those tanks were bombing or shelling the village, or the suburb of [XX), and Al-Jazeera, following the declaration of the Syrian Observer … Observatory of Human Rights, stated that twenty-five person were killed in this place.

So the next day I was to visit the patriarch in Damascus, and there I met with the priest, the Catholic priest of this region, of this ( XX)suburb. So I presented to him my condolences, telling him, you know, ‘We have been praying for you and for your dead people’. He said, ’What are you talking about?’ I said, ‘But yesterday I saw those tanks, they were shelling and you have twenty-five people dead. He said, ‘No, we have no tanks, we have no shelling, we have no people that have been killed, and I am very surprised to hear [this] from you. I just come, I just came from [XX]and nothing had happened. So this very day, the patriarch decided to found a Catholic Information Centre in the dioceses of the patriarchy. And we accepted to achieve this realisation……….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz0CbEoA4Ck

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Youtube video: Mother Agnes at St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, Hobart, Australia; October 2012

Mother Agnes Mariam on the Role of the Musalaha (“Reconciliation”) Initiative in Syria

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhUv5PH9ohs

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 Audio interview, October 2013

Father Dave interviews Mother Agnes

 

Sydney, October 2012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI6qjuaZbm4

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Press conference after study tour of Syria Oct or Nov 2011:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysKtld_VGbk

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HILLARY CLINTON:

Hillary Clinton comments on the situation in Syria (Jan/Feb 2012):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gu2GuztopPM

SUSAN RICE:

Susan Rice represents the US in the UN and criticises the stand of Russia and China on Syria.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPVDuTbdKT0

NAVI PILLAY from the UN:

Navi Pillay is interviewed by Channel 4 and refers to the sources for their information on what is occurring in Syria.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJLaLFmwyMk

THE ANONYMOUS WOMEN OF SYRIA:

http://australiansforsyria.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/young-syrian-women-damascus/

Images by Susan Dirgham: Women of Damascus

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