PEACE BUILDING INITIATIVES ON SAT-7 ARABIC
Bold initiatives are taking place in Lebanon to build peace between Christians and Muslims in the land of the cedar tree. Dr Martin Accad speaks on SAT-7 ARABIC’s program On the Go about the initiative Bread and Salt which aims to promote acceptance and appreciation between the two faiths.
SAT-7 ARABIC’s On the Go program, now in its second season, tackles the topic of tolerance and acceptance, highlighting ground-breaking news from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In a recent episode Yemeni Presenter Ashraf Elsamey spoke with guest Dr Martin Accad about the Bread and Salt initiative.
Martin Accad is the Chief Academic Officer of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) in Lebanon, responsible for this initiative.
A UNIQUE PROGRAM BRINGING YOUTH TOGETHER
Bread and Salt is a unique program that brings together both Christian and Muslim youth between the ages of 14-17, who live in the same neighbourhood. Despite being neighbours, it is not encouraged in their cultures to have dialogue about their faith. However, through this project these young adults are encouraged to engage with each other on a deeper level, talk about their different beliefs, and break down stereotypes.
“The name Bread and Salt reflects that sharing food together creates a strong bond that no external factor can break,” Accad shares on the program. “The main principle in dialogue is to recognise that we are different. Religious practices separate people because in their nature they are exclusive of the other who is of different religion.”
REACHING THE GRASSROOTS OF SOCIETY
Dr Accad explains how there have been complaints that the good relations between church leaders and non-Christian religious leaders, don’t reflect in real life on the lay people. Hence, such an initiative is vital to build a foundation for peace and openness towards others by reaching the grassroots of society.
In practice, the Christian group of young people go to the mosque on Friday morning to observe prayers. They don’t participate but they watch and listen to the message. Similarly, the young group of Muslims attend the church mass on Sunday, watch their Christian colleagues pray, and listen to the sermon. This is all done with the collaboration and agreement of the leaders of the mosque and church.
PEACE COMES FROM PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
Religion and faith are at the core of the Arab culture. They cannot be ignored or side-lined in any social initiative towards peace.
“The basis for peace comes from personal relationships,” says Accad. The aim of the initiative is to create personal relations and friendships among youths. This doesn’t solve differences but instead highlights them. Through the art of dialogue these youths learn to respect and tolerate the other,” Accad explains. “This is the secret to a peaceful society.”