The WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations” Executive Committee supports the International Progress Organization (IPO) Appeal for Immediate and Unconditional Release of Syrian Bishops issued on May 3, 2013 and calls to the dialogue community worldwide to express their support of this initiative either by writing directly to the IPO firstname.lastname@example.org or to the WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations” Executive Committee email@example.com.
Syria: civil strife must not become a religious conflict
International Progress Organization calls for immediate and unconditional release of Syrian bishops
Vienna/Doha, 3 May 2013
In a statement issued today, the President of the International Progress Organization, Dr. Hans Köchler, called for the immediate and unconditional release of the Metropolitan of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Aleppo, Bishop Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, and Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yaziji. The two religious leaders from Aleppo were kidnapped on 22 April by gunmen when traveling from the Turkish border on a humanitarian mission, and their whereabouts are unknown. The bishops' driver was killed in the attack.
Earlier last week, delegates and religious leaders from 75 countries attending the 10th Inter-faith Dialogue Conference in the Qatari capital Doha also called for the urgent release of the two bishops.
In a message to the UN Security Council, the President of the I.P.O. said that those regional and Western states that have sided with conflicting parties and secretly delivered, or assisted in the delivery of, weapons bear a heavy responsibility for the ongoing conflict in Syria, and in particular for the state of anarchy and lawlessness prevailing in large parts of the country that has facilitated this criminal act. Dr. Köchler further stated that, under the conditions of ongoing revolts in the region, the violent abduction and disappearance of the Christian bishops is an ominous sign for inter-faith relations in the Middle East and risks to undermine confidence between Christians and Muslims at a wider level.
Since its foundation in 1972, the International Progress Organization (I.P.O.) has been concerned with inter-cultural dialogue and Muslim-Christian relations in particular. In order to explore the metaphysical foundations of understanding between the two religions, the I.P.O. sponsored the first international conference on "The Concept of Monotheism in Islam and Christianity" (Rome, 17-19 November 1981). At the beginning of the Syrian crisis, in December 2011, the President of the I.P.O. met with the Metropolitan of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Aleppo, His Grace Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, on the sidelines of the Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in Doha, Qatar, and discussed with him the situation of Christian communities in the Middle East. In December last year, Dr. Köchler met with the Archbishop of the Chaldean Archdiocese of Tehran, Iran, His Excellency Ramzi Garmou.