Algeria honors the martyrs of the 1990s

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Algeria honors the martyrs of the 1990s

By Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader

In a unique event that received great international acclaim, Algeria has celebrated in the open air and for the first time in Oran, the beatification (which precedes the canonization) of 19 Christian "martyrs" who died in Algeria during the civil war that claimed many innocent lives from various shades of the society.
The Catholic Church wanted this fulfilled, with no intention to conjure up the miseries of the past but rather to turn over a new leaf in this fraternal Arab country, mainly the leaf of dialogue, understanding and mutual respect.

Algeria's second-largest city, Oran, was chosen as the site of the beatification because Bishop Pierre Claverie was one of the nineteen people martyred between 1994-1996 where he was killed, along with his driver at the time, Muhammad. His mother attended this great event. Many of the relatives of the beatified from France attended the ceremony in the presence Cardinal Giovanni Bacciu and more than 1,200 people. It has been a major and a unique event in Algeria.

The Algerian authorities paid great attention to the issue so that it would serve as a landmark for a new era of mutual respect. Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments Mohammed Issa attended the religious ceremony and made press statements. Furthermore, a special celebration was held for the cardinal and the guests at one of the Algerian mosques.

The terrorism in Algeria led to the death of over 150,000 people over these “bleak” years. Among those are the Christians whom the Church announced their heroism for adhering to faith because they were martyred because of their faith who include the seven monks of Tibhirine as they had refused to leave Algeria at the time. They wanted to stay with the people they served and with whom they greatly reciprocated love.

The beatification of the Christian martyrs is a way of honoring them. This is the Church's tradition of honoring martyrs for their faith. It is a prayer for the souls of the victims who fell at the time and for those who are still falling in the various parts of the world with the hateful weapons of terrorism.

This event marks the day of religious solidarity as it is a warning over and over again indicating that religion cannot go hand-in-hand with violence, and if it is claimed so then it is a distortion of religion and does not reflect its originality. The events that took place in the past decades refute the claim that religion may be consistent with violence. This is a renewed call for solidarity among the followers of religions, who came to attend the beatification ceremony, which indicates that the relationship based on love is basically based on the Holy books. Love God and love your neighbors. Let us proceed in the direction of cooperation for it is the only means for the good of humanity.

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