Arab Spring program Sept 19

Arab Spring continues to bring hope for reform to the Middle East and Northern Africa. But these revolutionary movements are bringing violence and turmoil while exposing the fault lines between religious and political groups. This is true especially in Syria, where a violent civil war rages, and Lebanon, where tensions threaten to unravel its civil society. In June, three people from Fond du Lac’s Memorial Baptist Church were among a group that visited Beirut and learned about reform’s toll on human rights. They will present a program, Human Rights and the Arab Spring, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, September 19, at the Fond du Lac Public Library.

Led by Pastor Brian Hastings, the group will share their experiences from the trip, give an overview of the situations in Syria and Lebanon and open up a dialog about the complex situation in the Middle East today.

Hastings said the trip helped him better understand how the Arab Spring both opened up opportunities and challenges for people in the region, and he and others in the group felt people of Fond du Lac would be surprised to learn how many Arab Christians look at the unfolding events very differently than might be assumed.

“We know that many people in our area care deeply about the suffering going on in the Middle East,” Hastings said. “While we may be tempted to despair at how intractable the problems seem to be, we wanted to bring back stories and new perspectives that offer hope.”

The group will share what they learned about issues of freedom of religion, women’s rights and human trafficking, through the lens of the Syrian war and Lebanese conflict. They’ll review the conflicts within Islam and the impact the wave of reform is having on minority groups, including Arab Christians.

There will be time for questions and discussion.

The program is free; no registration required. Refreshments will be served.

In the photo: Standing on a balcony overlooking Beirut are members of Fond du Lac's Memorial Baptist Church: starting second from left: the Rev. Brian Hastings, Gabrielle Hastings and Jane Wendt. They're joined by the Rev. Max Ramsey from Immanuel Church in Brookfield, left, and Saada Malky, from Hadath Baptist Church in Beirut. Hastings and others will present "Human Rights and the Arab Spring," at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, September 19, at the Fond du Lac Public Library.



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