Prince Charles calls for ‘freedom, justice, equality’ for Palestinians during Bethlehem visit

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Britain's Prince Charles arrives to visit Omar mosque in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Britain's Prince Charles visits Omar mosque in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Britain's Prince Charles visits Omar mosque in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Charles signed the Mosque of Omar visitor book in English and in Arabic. (Twitter: @ClarenceHouse)
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Prince Charles also met with President Mahmoud Abbas, who thanked the UK for its support of the Palestinian people. (Reuters)
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Updated 24 January 2020

Prince Charles calls for ‘freedom, justice, equality’ for Palestinians during Bethlehem visit

  • ‘Dearest wish’ expressed during first visit to Israeli-occupied territories
  • Charles visited Mosque of Omar and Church of the Nativity

LONDON: The UK’s Prince of Wales on Friday said it is his “dearest wish” that the Palestinian people receive “freedom, justice and equality.”

Prince Charles, speaking in the city of Bethlehem during a historic first trip to the occupied Palestinian territories, added that he will “pray for a just and lasting peace” in the Middle East.

He said he had been “struck by the energy, warmth and remarkable generosity of the Palestinian people.”

His words of hope for Palestinians come at a time when US President Donald Trump is expected to unveil his long-awaited Middle East peace plan, which is heavily tipped to favor Israel.

“It breaks my heart, therefore, that we should continue to see so much suffering and division,” Prince Charles said.

“No-one arriving in Bethlehem today could miss the signs of continued hardship and the situation you face, and I can only join you, and all communities, in your prayers for a just and lasting peace,” he added.

“We must pursue this cause with faith and determination, striving to heal the wounds which have caused such pain.”

The prince visited the Mosque of Omar, named after the caliph who conquered Jerusalem in 637 AD but ensured that Christians would be allowed to continue to worship. Charles signed the visitor book in English and in Arabic.

 

 

He also toured the Church of the Nativity, built on the site reported to be the birthplace of Jesus.

Having visited both places of worship, Prince Charles said Bethlehem encapsulates the “vital co-existence between Christians and Muslims.”

The city’s governor said after the prince’s visit: “The strongest message from Bethlehem is that we are proud as Palestinians, Muslims and Christians, to live here together.”

He added that the prince was “very interested” in every detail of the mosque and “asked about the poor people, how we can help them.”

Prince Charles also met with President Mahmoud Abbas, who thanked the UK for its help in building state institutions, and its assistance to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Abbas also thanked the UK for accepting the two-state solution.

“Our hope in the near future is that Britain recognizes the State of Palestine, because we’ve heard that the British Parliament recommended this to the government. So we hope that this will happen,” he said.

 


UN hosts Muslim World League conference on protecting youth from extremism

Updated 43 min 20 sec ago

UN hosts Muslim World League conference on protecting youth from extremism

  • MPs, parliament speakers, UN ambassadors, an elite of religious and ideological leaders in attendance

GENEVA: Muslim World League (MWL) Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa launched the initiatives of “youth protection from extremist and violent ideas and implementation mechanisms” during an international conference organized at the UN headquarters in Geneva.

MPs, parliament speakers, UN ambassadors, an elite of religious and ideological leaders and academics specialized in the topics of conference were in attendance.

Al-Issa said the initiatives aim at protecting the youth from violent and extremist ideologies or those inciting violence, and shed light on the responsibility of educational institutions in this context.

This would be achieved, he said, through the establishment of school curricula with “interactive activities” that focus on discussing the differences, diversity and pluralism in our world. 

They also aim to reaffirm that religious, ethnic and ideological clashes are a danger to world peace.

Al-Issa stressed the need to filter speeches targeting the youth from all that incites conflicts, hatred, racism and enmity, with the principle of human equality and understanding and respecting natural differences and diversity as an important foundation for countries and societies’ peace and harmony. 

He also noted the importance of spreading tolerance and rejecting the disadvantages of hate, racism and marginalization.

He said: “It is important to ban the exportation or importation of fatwas and religious ideas, for the religious awareness is flexible, and takes into consideration the changes of fatwas and religious sermons in line with the time, place and circumstances,” adding that extremism is not acceptable in any circumstance.

Egypt’s Minister of Endowments Dr. Mohammed Mokhtar Jomaa stressed during the conference that terrorism has become more dangerous than today’s diseases, as it has become easier to spread than any virus.  

“Individuals, countries and organizations must all work together on a purely humanitarian ground, for there is no development, prosperity, advancement or economy without security, and no security with terrorism and no terrorism eradication without protecting the youth from extremism,” he said.