Western violence will not help Arab Spring, says Euro religious network

By staff writers
May 12, 2011

Europe's largest network of spiritually based peace groups has expressed its support for nonviolent revolution in the north Africa and the Middle East. But the groups condemned the governments of France, the UK and US for their "military intervention in the Arab Spring".

Representatives of European branches of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) issued a statement to all parliaments within the European Union this week. The statement follows a meeting near High Wycombe in England.

They say they are "impressed by the nonviolent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt", adding that "their success was in no small part due to the work that had gone on in previous years by civil society".

They deplore the violent repression with which the Libyan government responded to resistance, as well as the Western military intervention in Libya "when other nonviolent and diplomatic options were (and still are) available".

As an example, they point to the proposal of India, South Africa and Venezuela to negotiate, and the African Union's "road map".

The IFOR representatives point to inconsistency between the Western response to Libya and "the situation in various other Arab countries where nonviolent uprisings are met with deadly violence but where the international community feels no need to intervene", such as Syria.

They also point out that in Bahrain, the regime is carrying out violent suppression of nonviolent protest with weapons supplied by some of the same Western countries bombing Libya.

The letter goes on to call on the international community, and especially the European Union, "to develop mechanisms to prevent and defuse violence". It calls upon faith groups and civil society in general to "use their networks to act as an early warning system for potential violence".

IFOR's statement finishes by affirming that "justice and peace can only be achieved through nonviolent means including the upholding of human rights".

IFOR has 85 branches, groups and affiliates in 51 countries on all continents. Its membership includes adherents of all the major spiritual traditions as well as those who have other spiritual sources for their commitment to nonviolence. It was founded by German and British Christians on the eve of war in 1914.

IFOR declare that "love in action has the power to transform unjust political, social, and economic structures".


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