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Warriors of the Spirit

[ by Charles Cameron ]

It’s a very different approach…

I’ve been preparing to write up some of the episodes that represent how warm and close relations between Muslims and Christians can at times be – the meeting of St Francis with the Sultan Malik al-Kamil, the period of considerable tolerance and artistic flourishing under Umayyad rule in Cordoba – and I have to say I’m getting very impatient to see this film:

film poster for

If you would like to understand why the Qur’an (5:82) says:

The nearest to the faithful are those who say “We are Christians. That is because there are priests and monks among them and because they are free of pride.”

May I recommend you either read John Kiser’s The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith. Love and Terror in Algeria — or, when it opens in your part of the world, go see Of Gods and Men. Or both.

Wishing us all peace in the new year, decade, century…

2 Responses to “Warriors of the Spirit”

  1. zen Says:

    These were the Monks slaughtered in the 1990’s in an atrocity that repelled even radical Islamists outside Algeria?

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    It’s unclear who actually killed the monks — Wikipedia says:

    On the night of 26-27 March 1996, seven monks from the monastery of Tibhirine in Algeria, belonging to the Roman Catholic Trappist Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.), were kidnapped in the Algerian Civil War. They were held for two months, and were found dead on 21 May 1996. The circumstances of their kidnapping and death remain controversial; the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) claims responsibility for both, but the then French military attaché, retired General Francois Buchwalter, reports that they were accidentally killed by the Algerian army in a rescue attempt, and claims have been made that the GIA itself was a cat’s paw of Algeria’s secret services (DRS).
    [ …]
    In 2009, the retired French general Francois Buchwalter, who was military attache in Algeria at the time, testified to a judge that the monks had accidentally been killed by a helicopter from the Algerian government during an attack on a guerrilla position, then beheaded after their death to make it appear as though the GIA had killed them. Ex-GIA leader Abdelhak Layada, who was in prison when the monks were killed but was later freed under a national amnesty, responded by claiming that the GIA had indeed beheaded them after the breakdown of negotiations with the French secret services.

    The book doesn’t take a position on who did the deed, and the film focuses on the monks’ discussion of whether or not they should leave Algeria. What’s impressive to me is the love and respect that clearly flowed both ways between these monks and their Muslim neighbors.
    But I’ll get into some of the theological angles in a later post — OCSO was Thomas Merton’s order, btw.

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