SAT-7 has broadcasted an historic event that saw representatives of minority religious groups in Tunisia sign a national charter for peaceful coexistence. SAT-7 presenter and cofounder of the Perpetua production house, Ahlam Arfaoui represented the Evangelical Church in Tunisia at the event.
“In this charter we have a responsibility for each other and for this good country. Tunisia is a country of freedom and tolerance. As Tunisians today we accept all who are different, including minorities. Today we want to show that we are a civilized society that accepts difference and is able to build itself on the right basis,” she said in her speech.
Christians, Bahai’s, Jews, Shiites, and others were represented at the event and signed the charter. It encourages legislators to implement regulations that recognize the rights of minorities to express and practice their beliefs freely and without intimidation from wider society or authorities.
The charter has been created in response to a recent escalation of violence against minority groups in Tunisia that has threatened to tear society apart. Many Tunisians feel compelled to hide their religious identities to avoid persecution.
Another event in defense of minorities’ rights to freedom of religion was organized by His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London. The online gathering on February 15th included representatives of religious minorities and media experts and called for protection for minorities of all faiths.
“Faith communities are facing persecution just for being faith communities. The Coptic Orthodox Church has chosen this particular day, the day set aside to remember the 21 martyrs of Libya – 20 Coptic Christians and one Ghanaian friend – to remember all of those from our community who have not only been persecuted but have paid the ultimate price for their faith,” said the Archbishop, who is also Chair of the SAT-7 International Board.
Guests at the event included: Christopher Chessun, Anglican Bishop of Southwark; Fiona Bruce MP, the UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief; Gareth Russell, Co-founder and Managing Director at Jersey Road PR; the Lord Alton of Liverpool; the Rt Reverend Philip Mountstephen, Anglican Bishop of Truro; and Mervyn Thomas CMG, Chair of the UK FoRB Forum.
“There is no monopoly on sufferings. If we can stand together tonight, and if from tonight onwards we can act together, it will be a light in the darkness that surrounds us. We must accept the cross of persecution, but we must never accept it for others,” said Archbishop Angaelos.
The experts suggested that the cycle of violence against minorities could be broken by creating awareness and promoting respect for human rights through peaceful approaches.
“We need to develop education-based approaches to promote respect for all, to promote cultures of non-violent conflict resolution and of respect for human difference. At the most local level, across the world, to help communities flourish and live in peace we need to counter ideas and narratives that attempt to justify exclusion and discrimination, which can lead in turn to hate-based violence,” said Bruce.
- Thank God for the signing of the national charter for peaceful coexistence in Tunisia
- That legislators will implement regulations that recognize the rights of minorities to express and practice their beliefs freely and without intimidation from wider society or authorities
- For Christian communities in Tunisia to lead by example and for Jesus to be lifted up and glorified in efforts for faith minorities to live peacefully with others in society