Baptist World Alliance
Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Phone: +1 703 790 8980
Fax: +1 703 893 5160      

July 12, 2011

For Immediate Release

BWA condemns violence in the Middle East, urges Christians to remain in the region

Washington, DC (BWA)--The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) has condemned the violence that is currently taking place in sections of the Middle East and is calling on Baptists to be engaged in "informed and persistent prayer for the whole region," and to be involved in "active solidarity with all the Baptist communities there."


In a resolution passed during a meeting of the General Council of the BWA in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the international Baptist organization denounced "all forms of violent protests" and "violent repression of peaceful demonstrations" that have occurred in the region over the past several months.  The BWA expressed particular concern about "recent violent attacks made on Christians and Christian churches by extremist groups, especially in Egypt and Iraq."


The resolution commends the faithfulness of Middle Eastern Baptists, such as those in Lebanon and Gaza, "who are reaching out with humanitarian aid to meet the needs of their communities, including refugees," and appealed to "the worldwide Baptist family to support them in their endeavors."


The BWA believes that "a just resolution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine" is urgent. Such a solution should "balance Israel's need for security with an end to the oppressive policies inflicted on the Palestinian people." Baptists are urged to give support to Arab Christians in Israel and to Palestinian Baptists. Baptist Christians in the region are encouraged "to remain in the Middle East as a continuing sign and affirmation of the Christian presence and witness in the region."


The BWA hopes that current events will be "an opportunity for peaceful positive changes in the societies there."


In another resolution, the BWA expressed concern on conflicts in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to "the struggle for access to and control of the region's vast mineral resources."


DRC supplies 70 percent of the minerals used to make cell phones, laptops, and other popular electronic devices. In the last 15 years, an estimated 5.4 million have died as a result of wars in eastern Congo with hunger and diseases claiming some 45,000 persons each month. Women and young girls are at special risk. Eastern Congo has been described as "the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman or a girl" due to widespread rape and other forms of violent assaults. The BWA deplores "rape as a tool of war in eastern Congo."


There is need, the BWA says, for "companies and individuals trading in minerals from eastern Congo to work for peace and promote justice in the region" and for Baptists to advocate with companies "to create conflict-free supply chains and a conflict-free mining sector in Congo."


These resolutions were presented when 300 Baptist leaders and delegates gathered in Kuala Lumpur from July 4-9 for the BWA Annual Gathering. The yearly meetings involve a number of BWA groups, including the General Council and the Executive Committee; executive sub-committees and divisional advisory committees; women's, men's, and youth departments; regional groupings; and commissions of the divisions of Freedom & Justice, and Mission, Evangelism & Theological Reflection, and others.