Thursday, July 03, 2008
The top Christian leader for Palestinians is in metro Detroit this week, offering words of hope for Palestinians and criticizing Israeli occupation. His visit comes during a national convention in Dearborn for the American Federation of Ramallah, the biggest annual gathering of Palestinians in the United States.
Archbishop Theodosius Attallah Hanna, of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, visited an Arab-American church in Livonia on Wednesday and an Islamic center in Dearborn, where he met and spoke with a range of religious and community leaders.
“As a religious man, I ask for justice for the Palestinians,” Hanna told the Free Press in an interview at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. “Defending human rights is a duty for Christians and religious people.”
The archbishop, who heads the Palestinian Orthodox church in Jerusalem, said through a translator that:
“My wish is that the American people understand what the Palestinians go through,” he said. “Their struggle is a just struggle”
The archbishop was at St. Mary Orthodox Church in Livonia and then visited the Islamic Center of America, where he was greeted by its leader, Imam Hassan Qazwini.
“I would like to see Christians in the U.S. be more understanding and sympathetic with Palestinians, who have had 60 years of injustice and 60 years of being prevented from going back to their land,” Hanna said. “There are millions who are refugees but are prevented from going back to their land where they were born.”
At the end of a talk, the archbishop presented Imam Qazwini with a relief of the city of Jerusalem and said to him:
“I hope that one day you will visit us in Jerusalem after it’s liberated from the occupation and the Arab Palestinian flag is there.”
Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said:
“A Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem yesterday deliberately drove a bulldozer into several buses and cars, killing three and injuring dozens of Israeli civilians. The Palestinian Archbishop essentially condoned that atrocity by his silence about it.”
The meeting with the archbishop was also attended by Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab-American News, Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, all of whom praised the archbishop.
“He’s a man of principle,” Hamad said.