Group brings Muslim leaders to Middle East to advocate for the rights of Christians
A national coalition of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian clergy strongly condemns the murder of Fr. Frans van der Lugt, a well-known man of peace. An unidentified man entered his home on April 7, took him outside and shot him twice in the head, leaving him in the street, according to news sources. Fr. van der Lugt had lived in Syria since 1966 and considered it his home. He refused to evacuate the besiged city of Homs.

“I don’t see people as Muslims or Christian, I see a human being first and foremost,” Fr. van der Lugt told reporters.

Clergy Beyond Borders (CBB) considers Fr. van der Lugt’s decision to stay in Homs, despite warnings and dangers, an exemplary act of sacrificial love, the kind that calls forth the very best values of the Abrahamic religions of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

CBB President Imam Yahya Hendi remarked: “I knew this man. He was a genuine man of peace. His death is an affront to every human value. Nothing within my faith justifies this kind of act. We condemn his murder in the strongest way possible.”

On Saturday, April 12, a delegation of Muslim and Christian leaders will embark upon a journey to Amman, Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Jerusalem to call for an end to the persecution of religious minorities, especially Christian communities, in the Middle East. “The murder of Fr. van der Lugt is but one powerful example of the pressure Christians are under in many Muslim-majority nations,” added CBB Vice President Rev. Steven D. Martin. “Christians are disappearing from the lands that gave our faith its birth. Our delegation of Muslim and Christian leaders are traveling to celebrate Easter in these lands, and to work with willing partners to bring about a more peaceful Middle East that treasures its religious diversity.”

CBB leaders have traveled and presented lectures and workshops throughout the United States and in several countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. In conjunction with the Salaam Institute, CBB provided peace education training for Imams in Niger including workshops with Christian and Muslim leaders. Similarly CBB has worked with Imams and Buddhist monks in Thailand, presented clergy workshops in Norway, participated in training for Imams in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and served in a delegation of religious leaders to Indonesia under the auspices of the World Council of Religions for Peace.

Clergy Beyond Borders is a US based non-profit organization, working to empower religious leaders to explore and utilize the resources of their diverse religious traditions in promoting authentic dialogue, inter-religious understanding, justice and world peace. CBB promotes a positive program of religious pluralism by addressing the perversion of religious teachings and traditions to justify violence and discrimination against people and institutions.