Middle East Conference 2013: “Your Rights & My Responsibilities” – Day 4 – Audience Responses

16) Islamization of Society & Human Rights For All – Is It Possible? [12:30 – 1:30pm]

A critical issue being faced in North Africa and the Middle East is the Islamization of Society and how that affects human rights for all, and particularly minorities.  A Thursday AM session included a discussion between Shiite Muslim leader Hani Abdalla and Ehab el-Kharrat, a Christian member of the Upper House in Parliament in Egypt.

It was evident that issues would be far easier to resolve here in the Middle East if leaders of all sects had the spirit of these two men.  Ehad expressed how areas such as science, the arts, women, and political creativity may suffer under Islamization.  Sayyid responded that there should be no oppression in any of these areas.  He even declared, “A governor who is not an oppressor and is not a Muslim is better than a governor who is an oppressor and is a Muslim.”

One of the most interesting quotes of the session was when Sayyid declared, “If you have revealed yourself to one another you would not have buried one another.”  Wise words I wish all of the world could hear. J.F.

17) Human Trafficking in the Global & MENA Contexts [5:00 – 6:30pm]

“I wouldn’t give up on hope,” says Tim Costello, the CEO of World Vision Australia. With this hopeful and positive assertion, though I have long doubted the effectiveness of any Christian influence in the matter of human trafficking, my hope is rediscovered.

As a person who is deeply agonized by the fact that a substantial number of women and children have been trafficked worldwide, finding additional types of trafficking such as the child labor at soccer ball stitching industries in India, is obviously startling and grievous.

Costello defines human trafficking as “putting/keeping a person in an exploitative situation that they can’t get out of.” Therefore, there is not a sharp line between human trafficking and slavery. Costello cites a profound example in the Bible, where God promises to redeem His ‘ritually slaved’ Israelites, bringing freedom to them. Costello stresses how this is the central message of Gospel – “Gospel celebrates freedom and Gospel is freedom”.

The significance of the issue of human trafficking is to bring redemption and freedom to the trafficked. Therefore, Gospel and human trafficking are inseparable entities that must go side by side, so we all as Christian are strongly encouraged to pay attention to the issues of human trafficking. S.K.

18) The Sex Trade & Human Trafficking in Lebanon [8:00 – 9:30pm]

One of the key moments that stood out during this session was talking about some of the viable methods that the levels of supply and demand could be regulated in regards to prostitution.

I agreed with the presenter that the wrong way is to try and limit the supply by criminalizing the women who are involved, especially when they are being exploited. This seems like the easier step, however, than actually trying to do something about limiting the demand. Perhaps, this is the result of patriarchal society and an inclination to “let the boys be boys.” However, an example was given about Sweden, which has decided to criminalize the clients of prostitutes and they have had pretty successful results in regulating the demand.

The Church does have to play a vital role on this issue by saturating its culture with the example of Jesus and his respect for women. There is a definitely a degree of degradation that occurs for women involved in prostitution, especially if they are being exploited, and the Church should be outspoken about these abuses. The Church should raise up its men to treat every woman like their own mother, sister, and daughter and be a counter-cultural presence in societies where manhood is defined by the number of their sexual conquests. J.A.

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