Panel to discuss Middle East

By Abigail Loop
Staff Writer

Due to recent religious conflicts occurring in the Middle East, Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning is convening a panel discussion to give students and faculty a better understanding of the current crisis.

From 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. today in Miller Chapel, a discussion will feature three panelists who will speak about their experiences in the Middle East and what challenges Christians there are facing.

Darin Davis, director of the Institute for Faith and Learning, said the panel discussion will give people a better understanding of what Christians in the Middle East experience every day.

“Many Christians in the Middle East are facing persecution in ways not seen before in our lifetimes,” Davis said. “It’s far too easy for us to take a distanced and disengaged perspective so many miles away. This panel will help bring the reality of the situation closer so that we might better understand and respond.”

Dr. Daniel Williams, professor of religion, said he believes many Christians in the United States don’t fully grasp the realities of other Christians around the world.

“Even though the news has covered a lot about Iraq and Syria, a lot of Christians don’t know that there is a variety of Christians around the world,” Williams said. “They have no clue what’s outside Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodox Christianity. There’s a whole other world where Christianity started outside the Roman empire.”

Also a moderator for the panel, Williams said this panel discussion will bring a deeper awareness to this issue and also introduce the student body to a kind of Christianity in the Middle East that they know little about.

“This will bring an understanding of what’s going on and why,” Williams said. “It will tell how Christian groups are being persecuted and a variety of topics that the news doesn’t pick up at all.”

Dr. Abdul Saadi, assistant professor of Arabic, will act as one of the panelists for the discussion. Saadi said he will talk about his firsthand experience of the way people live in Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

“I’m going to talk about the dilemmas Christians face in Syria, Iraq and Turkey and how things are ending in an eradication of existence,” Saadi said. “I belong to those communities in the Middle East and will give examples of my personal experience.”

Other panelists include Jalil Dawood, pastor of The Arabic Church of Dallas and Mar Awa Royel, bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East.