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Mar-24-2009 01:00printcomments

Interfaith Marches in Bethlehem Deliver Message of Peace

A movement to end the violence in Palestine and Israel is spearheaded by an author with rare insight into religious extremism.

Peace march in Bethlehem
Peace march in Bethlehem
All photos courtesy: Dr. Frank Romano

(SALEM, Ore.) - A strong message embraced in peaceful solidarity was shared with people in the Middle East during an interfaith peace march in Bethlehem, for the future of the West Bank and Israel.

Dr. Frank Romano is the author of a fascinating book called STORM OVER MOROCCO that retells the story of his captivity among religious zealots in the middle east.

He is presently organizing interfaith events for Hebron, West Bank and Gaza that will take place in August, 2009.

Romano told Salem-News.com, "One purpose of these marches is to bring people of different religions together for peace and take religion definitively out of conflict in the Middle East."

"Another purpose of this event is to facilitate working together of all active freedom/peace/human rights groups in the area and in the World."

The marches are also dedicated to building humanitarian efforts to improve the education of people in the area, including cross-cultural dialogues, mixed student programs, and other methods that will improve the economic environment.

Dr. Romano's inadvertent induction into the world of Islamic extremists began in 1977 when he was attending the Sorbonne in Paris, studying philosophy.

He says he had sort of a vision that if he traveled to the middle east maybe on the way he would find himself, and learn what my spirituality was, and become helpful and more directly involved in the peace process.

"So I just took a train and went down to northern Africa, started out from Morocco and was going to head out across Africa," Romano explained in a recent interview with Sound Authors Host Kent Gustavson PhD.

"I decided that I would learn about Islam before I got there because that’s one of my goals. So I was invited, I met this group that invited me to learn about Islam in their mosque and learn Arabic as well and after a week of doing that, I was no longer free to go. They had me imprisoned and it turned out to be an extremist group there on the outskirts of Sri Lanka."

From there the harrowing journey in captivity continued far longer than he ever expected. You can learn about it by purchasing the book, there is a link below, and look for a review of STORM OVER MOROCCO that I will be publishing soon.

Interfaith Freedom March

The Interfaith Freedom March that took place on March 2nd, began in front of Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, West Bank, and continued to Rachel’s Tomb, near Bethlehem, West Bank.

"The marchers walked in the light of the creator, following the principles of non-violence and respect for all creatures which are common denominators among the Peoples of the Book (ahl al-kitab) who reside in the area, as it is written in their Holy Scriptures of the Qur’an, the Torah, the New Testament, and in other texts."

Romano explained that Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sufis, Kabbalists, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, etc., and members of all faith communities were welcomed as part of the event.

"Residents of the area are ready for a durable peace, even those who were not ready a year or two ago," he said.

"Similar to the situation in Ireland and other conflict areas, residents of the area have become fed up with, as well as exhausted and disgusted by the violence and truly seek peaceful coexistence."

Romano continued, "As a result, many are laying down their arms, working on interfaith projects to take religion/spirituality out of the conflict, and working within the political system to bring about change in a permanent, nonviolent way."

With the recent Israeli attack on Gaza that cost 1300 Palestinian lives and 13 Israeli lives, 4 by friendly fire, we may have reached the turning point that can lead to a lessening of tension among people in a part of the world that has simply seen too much violence in recent years.

It is optimistic but a worthy gamble. The Internet is allowing more western viewers to see real and accurate stories about Gaza and similar Israeli situations, without a complete and total pro-Israeli slant, or a strictly pro-Palestinian bias.

In keeping with that, Romano says hopes the marches help counter-balance the filtered and false information about the suffering of the people in the area, notably Palestinians and Israelis.

"Their suffering has become invisible in the face of narratives with no basis in reality and exaggerated reporting on incidents of violence and subsequent retaliation, often dominating the news and distracting the world from focusing on the day to day suffering of the residents in the area."

Romano, like many who strive to help create peace in this contested place, believes that removing all West Bank settlements would help in diffusing the tension accelerating since 1967; tension that is begging to have the emergency brake applied.

"As such, the occupation of the West Bank must end as a precursor to peaceful coexistence on the condition that adequate security measures are taken by both sides to preserve the peace."

He says he hopes the march, "is a precursor to freedom through love and understanding that is achieved by bringing all people together, as brothers and sisters and as children of the creator, showing the world that all people want peace in Israel and Palestine."

It could not happen soon enough, and plenty of people in Israel and Palestine agree. Below are scheduled appearances for Dr. Frank Romano, and other links that will help a person learn more about his efforts to bring about a lasting change that benefits the entire world.

STORM OVER MOROCCO (autobiographical narrative)

April 11: 1:30-3:30 p.m. Copperfield's Bookstore
Montgomery Village
2316 Montgomery Drive
Santa Rosa, Calif.
Book Signing

April 13: 7:00 p.m. Bloomsbury Books
290 East Main Street
Ashland, Oregon
Poetry Reading/Signing

April 14: 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Rogue Valley Metaphysical Library & Event Center
258 A Street, Suite 7
Ashland, Oregon
Presentation/Discussion/Book Signing

April 16: 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. Alexander Book Co.
50 Second St.
San Francisco, Calif.
Presentation/Discussion/Book Signing

April 17: 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. L’s Caffe
2871 24th Street
San Francisco, Calif.
Poetry Reading/Book Signing

April 18: 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Borders Bookstore
Stonestown Galleria
233 Winston Drive
San Francisco, Calif.
Presentation/Discussion/Book Signing

April 19: 1:00 p.m. Barnes & Noble Booksellers
700 4th Street
Santa Rosa, Calif.
Poetry Reading/Book Signing

April 22: 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. William Paterson University Rm:
University Commons 211 (Old Restaurant Room)
Wayne, New Jersey
Reading/Presentation/Discussion
Book Signing

April 22: 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. - Professor Martha Witt's English Program
William Paterson University Rm:
University Commons 211 (Old Restaurant Room)
Wayne, New Jersey
Reading/Presentation/Discussion
Book Signing

April 23: 6:00 p.m. Hue-Man Bookstore
2319 Frederic Douglass Boulevard
New York, NY
Presentation/Discussion/Book Signing

April 25: 4:00 p.m. River Oaks Bookstore
3270 Westheimer
Houston, Texas
Presentation/Discussion/Book Signing
CROSSING OVER (book of poems)

April 25: 6:00 p.m. River Oaks Bookstore
3270 Westheimer
Houston, TX
Poetry Reading/Book Signing

Dr. Frank Romano is the author of STORM OVER MOROCCO, autobiographical narrative about following spiritual path while living with extremist religious sect. You can purchase the book at amazon.com/Storm-Over-Morocco/dp/B001EPQTX2

Learn more by visiting: frankromano363.com

Storm Over Morocco: http://www.soundauthors.com/frank-romano-author-of-storm-over-morocco.htm

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Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 in Afghanistan with Oregon troops. Tim recently returned from Iraq where he covered the war there while embedded with an Oregon Guard aviation unit. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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