03/03/2023, 10.51
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Islamic-Christian appeal: 'Let us face the reality of migration together'

Promoted by the Oasis Foundation in the aftermath of the Crotone shipwreck with dozens of victims. Signatories Card. Angelo Scola, numerous bishops from the Middle East and personalities from Italian Islamic communities. In the spirit of the Document on Human Fraternity, the call for a common commitment "against the oppression that drives people to leave, nationalistic and selfish closures and the unscrupulous action of human traffickers".


Milan (AsiaNews) - Dialogue between Christians and Muslims today cannot ignore the issue of migration. This is what is stated in an appeal issued by the Oasis Foundation in the aftermath of the tragic shipwreck of a migrant boat off the coast of Crotone in Italy, with dozens of victims from Afghanistan and other countries, who had set sail from Turkey. Together with Card. Angelo Scola, Archbishop Emeritus of Milan and initiator of the Oasis Foundation for Dialogue between Christians and Muslims, the text is signed by numerous bishops and vicars apostolic of the Middle East, the Imam of the Grand Mosque of Rome Nader Akkad and other representatives of the Italian Islamic communities.

The text - expressly referring to the Document on Human Fraternity signed in 2019 in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and the Imam of al Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyib - calls on Christians and Muslims to "feel particularly touched" by the reality of migration. While acknowledging that it is not the immediate task of religious authorities and the faithful "to suggest technical solutions" to the challenges of migration, the appeal calls for a common commitment "against the injustices and oppression that are often behind the decision to leave, opposing nationalistic and selfish closures and condemning the unscrupulous actions of human traffickers and smugglers". We publish the full text below (list of signatories at this link).

The latest tragic shipwreck of a migrants boat in the Mediterranean Sea calls everyone to take responsibility. Because of its complexity, the migratory phenomenon needs solutions of various kinds, taking into account the political, social, economic and environmental factors of the countries involved. But it is first and foremost a human fact that challenges everyone's conscience.

Christians and Muslims can feel particularly affected by this reality. Indeed, the majority of migrants trying to reach Europe are people of Christian or Muslim faith, the territories through which they transit have a significant Christian or Muslim presence, and the places from which they embark are mostly countries with a Muslim majority.

In recent years, dialogue between Christians and Muslims has understandably focused on the issue of religious violence, through publications and research studies, statements and lectures. We believe that emigration, with all the suffering that goes with it, deserves similar attention. There are already many initiatives taken in this field by either individuals or institutions, but a joint action would contribute to bring further a conscience that would find deeper reasons for an Islamic-Christian friendship.

It is not the immediate task of religious authorities and the Christian and Muslim faithful to suggest technical solutions to the problems that migration brings. They can, however, intervene on both a humanitarian and a cultural level, contributing to the debate on this issue in the light of the values enshrined in their respective traditions. As stated in the Document on Human Brotherhood for World Peace and Common Coexistence, signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyib on 4 February 2019, "Faith leads the believer to see in the other a brother to be supported and loved. From faith in God, who created the universe, creatures and all human beings - equal because of His Mercy -, the believer is called to express this human brotherhood, safeguarding creation and the whole universe and supporting every person, especially the neediest and poorest".

In the encyclical Fratelli Tutti, moreover, Pope Francis pointed out that migration is always an experience of uprooting, and therefore reaffirmed "The right not to emigrate, that is, to be in a position to remain in one's own land". At the same time, however, he recalled that many “flee war, persecution, natural disasters” while “others, with full rights, are seeking opportunities for themselves and their families. They dream of a better future and wish to create the conditions for it to come true'". 

As it unfolds, migration consists of several stages and involves a plurality of actors. To govern it, action must be taken at every level, upstream and downstream at the same time: working to try to remove the causes that generate it, thus limiting its scope, and at the same time providing safe routes and adequate forms of reception and integration for people who decide to leave their country.

Christians and Muslims are called upon to make their contribution in each of these areas, committing themselves against the injustices and oppression that are often at the root of the decision to leave, opposing the nationalistic and selfish closures that prevent reception, and condemning the unscrupulous actions of human traffickers and smugglers who get rich on the skin of migrants.

The call for an Islamic-Christian mobilization around these issues is in no way intended to exclude or deny the contribution of people of other religious traditions and convictions, but aims to ensure that a spiritual and moral heritage partly shared between Christians and Muslims is put at the service of the good life of all.

Photo: Flickr / Principato


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