Syrian Nun Seen as Threat to War Resistance
By William Boardman -- Reader Supported News
What the worst Mother Agnes could have done to the anti-war conference?
Here's what it looks like when a respected reporter tweets about his blackmail note to an established anti-war organization regarding the organization's upcoming conference in a tweet on November 15:
"I've informed organizers of @STWuk that I will not participate in their conference if Mother Agnes is on the platform."
The reporter is Jeremy Scahill, who was booked as the keynote speaker and to show his film "Dirty Wars" (based on his book "Dirty Wars") at the November 30 International Anti-War Conference in London, put on by Stop the War Coalition (STWuk), which was first organized in 2001 in opposition to an American attack on Iraq. More than 12 years later, the coalition notes dryly on its webpage for the conference, "We need more effective anti war resistance internationally. This conference is a chance to analyse, build links and lay plans."
Scahill's threat to boycott the conference soon became moot the following day, when the dreaded Mother Agnes withdrew from participation. Her letter read, in part:
"It has come to my attention that my participation in your conference has become a matter of serious contention, even prompting some other speakers to consider withdrawing. This is apparently due to a campaign of cruel and unsubstantiated accusations which seek to work against my efforts and those of the Musalaha (Reconciliation) Initiative in Syria.
"The basis of our work toward peace is reconciliation and forgiveness. This means extending an olive branch to some who may initially refuse it, and accepting an olive branch from others who are despised, even by our friends".
"Some may feel that an injustice will be done if I speak at your conference. Others may think that injustice will be done if I do not. Because my participation in your conference may be used by some to distract from your valuable efforts towards peace, non-violence and reconciliation, I believe it best to withdraw from participation."
Why did Stop the War invitation to nun working to stop war raise objections?
Push comes to shove, and Mother Agnes is an apparent pushover. She's also not flogging a movie. And the abuse she's suffered online was as real as the pressure on Scahilll and others to have nothing to do with her. It's hard to find any evidence that Mother Agnes has committed anything worse than what others consider thought-crimes and politically incorrect observations, some of which are actually correct.
Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross is a Carmelite nun and mother superior of the Monastery of James the Mutilated in Qara, Syria, which has a community of three monks and twelve nuns. Born in Lebanon in a refugee camp 61 years ago, she is Palestinian on her father's side and has worked in Syria for about 20 years. She is the spokesperson for the Catholic Information Center in Beirut, where the Musalaha Initiative also has its office. Mother Agnes became a nun at 19, after several years in the late 1960s as a self-styled "hippie," traveling to Europe, India and Tibet. Unlike others with an equally public profile, Mother Agnes has no Wikipedia page.