Christian group apologizes for Crusades

Jerusalem slaughter occurred 900 years ago

Reuters, July 1,1999
By Sofia Javed

JERUSALEM - Members of an evangelical Christian group arrived in Jerusalem yesterday and apologized for the slaughter of Muslims, Jews and Eastern Christians during the Crusades 900 years ago.

''We, as physical and cultural descendants of the Crusaders, recognize and renounce the motives and acts of the Crusaders,'' said Matthew Hand, a spokesman for Reconciliation Walk, a group of Western Christians tracking the path of Crusaders from Europe to the Middle East in an apology tour.

''The Crusades belie the spirit and teachings of Christ, whose kingdom was not part of this world of violence,'' he said.

Thousands of Crusader knights invaded Jerusalem on July 15, 1099, and slaughtered its mainly Muslim and Jewish inhabitants.

Members of Reconciliation Walk began their journey three years ago in Cologne, Germany. After visiting, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank, they arrived in Jerusalem to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the subjugation of Jerusalem by Crusaders.

In a public ceremony yesterday, members of the group presented framed copies of its apology in English, Arabic and Hebrew to representatives from the three faiths.

''We deeply regret the atrocities committed in the name of Christ by our predecessors. We renounce hatred and fear, and condemn all violence done in the name of Jesus Christ,'' the apology said

Members of the group spent the day walking the streets of Jerusalem begging forgiveness for the violence of the Crusader bid to wrest the Holy Land from Muslim control.

Jewish, Christian and Muslim representatives present at the ceremony welcomed the apology.

''Of course we cannot forget, but we can forgive,'' said Metropolitan Timothy, secretary general of the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem. ''Even Christ on the cross extended his arms to embrace the whole world.''

Mithkal Natour, a lecturer in Islamic Law at Israel's Baka Al-Gharbiya Islamic college, said Muslims should accept the apology.

Rabbi Ron Kronish, director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel, said it was never too late for sincere repentance.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.