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Faith and war discussed at forum

April 02, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

As an American citizen and a Muslim, Zubair Latif said his feelings about the U.S. war on Iraq are in conflict.

"I saw the films of the bombing and I couldn't sleep that night," Latif said.

Latif and approximately 50 others gathered Tuesday night to discuss the dilemmas of faith and war that prompted the Interfaith Council's forum at Frostburg University Center in Hagerstown.

"But it can be said that if Saddam is a Muslim, how can he do what he has done?" Latif said, illustrating the conflict.

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In response to the war with Iraq, the interfaith group working for tolerance between people of different faiths in Washington County changed the topic of Tuesday's public meeting to faith and war.

The Rev. Valerie Wills of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown encouraged all who came Tuesday night to move beyond who is right and who is wrong in the conflict.

"That is less important that our ability to understand each other and accept each other," Wills said.

Tracing the history of war and Christianity through the centuries, the Rev. Ed Poling of the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren acknowledged that most Christians probably fall into the middle ground between those who espouse war and those that abhor it.

"This war is so tragic," Poling said. "There is a sense of sadness that our differences couldn't be resolved."

David Dolinsky gave the Jewish perspective and encouraged all to remember that we are one world.

"War is a disregard for the sanctity of human life," Dolinsky said.

Representing the Islamic Society of Western Maryland, Shahab Siddiqui said the war is not in the best interest of either the United States or of world peace.

"This is not a war by our definition - it is an invasion," Siddiqui said. "We have not justified this war."

Hagerstown resident Mary Egan said she has seen on television that people in Iraq are a lot like us.

"They worry about their children, their homes and their jobs," Egan said. "You can't ignore that fact."

Tim Fewell of Waynesboro, Pa., said he has been struck by the irony of the arguments Christians are using to defend both sides of the issue.

"We are responding in so many different ways and each has his justification from the Bible," Fewell said. "I'm trying to pray for the safety of both sides."

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