Christians and Muslims join forces to combat modern slavery

VATICAN CITY Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:30pm EDT

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Roman Catholic Church, Church of England and al-Azhar, the Cairo-based seat of Sunni Muslim learning, came together on Monday for a rare display of interfaith action among them in calling for an end to modern slavery within 20 years.

Their joint statement setting up the "Global Freedom Network" they declared that "physical, economic and sexual exploitation of men, women and children" trapped 30 million people worldwide in slavery.

As well as establishing a world day of prayer for victims of slavery, the faiths agreed to "slavery-proof their supply chains and investments and to take remedial action if necessary" and press governments and companies to do the same.

Relations between the Vatican and the Church of England are cordial, even though they differ over women bishops and gay issues, while Rome's ties to al-Azhar are thawing after three years of frosty separation.

Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, who signed the document for the Vatican, said Pope Francis had described human trafficking and modern-day slavery, raging from forced sex work to indentured agricultural labor, as a "crime against humanity".

He said the rare example of cooperation between the Catholic and Anglican communities and al-Azhar in Cairo could help build closer ties between the faiths.

"I think it's the first time we have worked together like this," he told journalists at the signing ceremony, adding that interfaith relations required careful study and treatment.

"But for other questions, human questions, the common values of humanity we can work together and this can be important for the theoretical path," he said.

CHALLENGE TO UNITE FOR POOR

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, head of the Church of England and the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, said in a statement that Anglicans and Catholic had been in close dialogue with each other since 1966.

"We are now being challenged in these days to find more profound ways of putting our ministry and mission where our faith is and being called into a deeper unity on the side of the poor and in the cause of the justice and righteousness of God," he said.

"We are struggling against evil in secret places and in deeply entrenched networks of malice and cruelty."

Al-Azhar froze relations with Rome in 2011 after then-Pope Benedict condemned attacks on Christians in Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria and said they showed the need for better protection of religious minorities in those countries.

Mahmoud Azab, who signed the agreement for al-Azhar's Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, said the experience of the past three years of strained relations with the Vatican had shown that meeting simply to talk "was not sufficient".

After the election of Pope Francis a year ago, he said, "as soon as we saw positive signs, we resumed (contacts) right away. We were just looking for an agenda."

The initiative was associated with the Walk Free Foundation, a charity set up by Australian iron ore mining magnate Andrew Forrest to combat modern-day slavery.

Forrest said the campaign was not connected with efforts to improve conditions for low-paid workers around the world, which he said was a separate issue from slavery. But Azab said that minimally paid work could "prepare the ground" for slavery.

"I consider that being very badly paid, having a very, very low salary is part of slavery," he said. "Profiting from the needs of human beings, taking all their effort and energy without paying or paying very little, is part of slavery."

(Reporting By James Mackenzie; Editing by TOm Heneghan)

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Comments (2)
InfideHere wrote:
Oh please! Are you kidding me?? MUSLIMS against slavery??

There is not the least bit of intolerance for slavery anywhere in the muslim “holy” (cough cough) quran. In fact, their “holy” book of Islam explicitly gives slave-owners the freedom to sexually exploit their slaves – not just in one place, but in at least three separate Suras. Islamic law is littered with rules concerning the treatment of slaves, some of which are relatively humane, but none that prohibit the actual practice by any stretch.

The very presence of these rules (along with the fact that their terrorist/pedophile mohammad owned and traded slaves) condones and legitimizes the institution of slavery. As such, this deeply dehumanizing horror has been a ubiquitous tradition of Islam since the days of mohammad to the TODAY’s plight of non-Muslims in the Sudan, Mali, Niger and Mauritania, as well as other parts of the Muslim world where ISLAM is in control.

There has NEVER been an abolitionary movement within Islam (just as the religion produces no organized resistance to present-day enslavement). The abolition of slavery was imposed on the Islamic world by European countries, along with other political pressures that were entirely unrelated to Islamic law.

Although horrible abuses of slaves in the Muslim world were recorded, there has been little inclination toward the documentation and earnest contrition that one finds in the West. The absence of a guilty conscience often leads to the mistaken impression that slavery was not as bad under Islam… when it is actually indicative of the tolerance that the religion has for the practice.

So narcissistic is the effect of Islam on the devoted, that to this day many Muslims believe in their hearts that the women and children carried off in battle, and their surviving men folk, were actually done a favor by the Muslim warriors who plucked them from their fields and homes and relegated them to lives of demeaning servitude.

Shame and apology, no matter how appropriate, are almost never to be found in Dar al-Islam. Caliphs, the religious equivalent of popes, maintained harems of hundreds, sometimes thousands of young girls and women captured from lands as far away as Europe and consigned to sexual slavery. For instance…Hungarians were hunted like animals by the Turks, who carried 3 million into slavery over a 150 year period.

African slaves were often castrated by their Muslim masters. Few survived to reproduce, which is why there are not many people of African descent living in the Middle East, even though more slaves were taken out of Africa in the 1300 years of Arab slave trading than in the 300 years of European slavery. The 400,000 slaves brought to America, for example, have now become a community of 30 million, with a much higher standard of living than their African peers.

There is no William Wilberforce or Bartoleme de las Casas in Islamic history as there is in Christianity. When asked to produce the name of a Muslim abolitionist, apologists sometimes meekly suggest the terrorist/pedophile mohammad himself. But, if a slave owner and trader, who commanded the capture and sexual exploitation of slaves, and left a 13-century legacy of religiously-based slavery, is the best that Islam can offer, then no amount of sophistry will be enough to convince any but the most ignorant.

Please…STOP handing out “CoExist” bumper stickers and WAKE UP!!

Mar 17, 2014 8:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
InfideHere wrote:
Oh please! Are you kidding me?? MUSLIMS against slavery??

There is not the least bit of intolerance for slavery anywhere in the muslim “holy” (cough cough) quran. In fact, their “holy” book of Islam explicitly gives slave-owners the freedom to sexually exploit their slaves – not just in one place, but in at least three separate Suras. Islamic law is littered with rules concerning the treatment of slaves, some of which are relatively humane, but none that prohibit the actual practice by any stretch.

The very presence of these rules (along with the fact that their terrorist/pedophile mohammad owned and traded slaves) condones and legitimizes the institution of slavery. As such, this deeply dehumanizing horror has been a ubiquitous tradition of Islam since the days of mohammad to the TODAY’s plight of non-Muslims in the Sudan, Mali, Niger and Mauritania, as well as other parts of the Muslim world where ISLAM is in control.

There has NEVER been an abolitionary movement within Islam (just as the religion produces no organized resistance to present-day enslavement). The abolition of slavery was imposed on the Islamic world by European countries, along with other political pressures that were entirely unrelated to Islamic law.

Although horrible abuses of slaves in the Muslim world were recorded, there has been little inclination toward the documentation and earnest contrition that one finds in the West. The absence of a guilty conscience often leads to the mistaken impression that slavery was not as bad under Islam… when it is actually indicative of the tolerance that the religion has for the practice.

So narcissistic is the effect of Islam on the devoted, that to this day many Muslims believe in their hearts that the women and children carried off in battle, and their surviving men folk, were actually done a favor by the Muslim warriors who plucked them from their fields and homes and relegated them to lives of demeaning servitude.

Shame and apology, no matter how appropriate, are almost never to be found in Dar al-Islam. Caliphs, the religious equivalent of popes, maintained harems of hundreds, sometimes thousands of young girls and women captured from lands as far away as Europe and consigned to sexual slavery. For instance…Hungarians were hunted like animals by the Turks, who carried 3 million into slavery over a 150 year period.

African slaves were often castrated by their Muslim masters. Few survived to reproduce, which is why there are not many people of African descent living in the Middle East, even though more slaves were taken out of Africa in the 1300 years of Arab slave trading than in the 300 years of European slavery. The 400,000 slaves brought to America, for example, have now become a community of 30 million, with a much higher standard of living than their African peers.

There is no William Wilberforce or Bartoleme de las Casas in Islamic history as there is in Christianity. When asked to produce the name of a Muslim abolitionist, apologists sometimes meekly suggest the terrorist/pedophile mohammad himself. But, if a slave owner and trader, who commanded the capture and sexual exploitation of slaves, and left a 13-century legacy of religiously-based slavery, is the best that Islam can offer, then no amount of sophistry will be enough to convince any but the most ignorant.

Please…STOP handing out “CoExist” bumper stickers and WAKE UP!!

Mar 17, 2014 8:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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