A leading commentator on Middle East issues has said that faith and civic leaders in the region have a responsibility to challenge "regimes that muzzle and polarise their peoples" along with the "religious totalitarianism" that fuels violence, discrimination and hatred towards minorities.
During the past week, many in the Middle East, caught up in the yuletide spirit will have been hoping for a more peaceful world in 2011, says Harry Hagopian. But what are the prospects for peace and stability in the region?
Will he, or won't he? Harry Hagopian explores the politics and posturing behind Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's decision regarding a further three-month extension to the moratorium on the construction of Jewish-only Israeli settlements on Palestinian occupied land.
The Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Catholic Bishops, meeting with other Christian leaders as observers, faces major challenges in church and society, reports adviser Harry Hagopian. But there are also grounds of hope for promoting peace and justice in the region.