Statement of the Peace and Service Consultation of the Europe and Middle East Section of the Friends World Committee for Consultation of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers); meeting at Kortenberg, Belgium, from 20th to 22nd November 2015.
As Quakers from across Europe, meeting in Belgium in the aftermath of the recent murders in Paris and Beirut, we mourn with those who have lost someone close to them. We also acknowledge the anxiety and fear people are feeling across France, Lebanon and elsewhere.
No one is secure unless all of us are secure, and that includes the people of Syria and other war-torn countries as well as the people of France and the rest of Europe.
We call upon our respective governments and the European Union to break the endless cycle of violence that has been fuelling war and terror in recent years. We need to move away from expensive, indiscriminate and ineffective military power and stop fuelling war and the spread of arms.
Instead, to prevent violent extremism, European governments should support the political settlement of the conflict in Syria, and foster economic development in the region. Both in Europe and the Middle East, appropriate funding and civil-space must be provided for community groups, social services, educators and families, to support people who are susceptible to ideologies of violence.
Sustainable and shared security can be created only by addressing the root causes of violence. The stream of refugees testifies to the fact that all people need safety, ways to earn their living, and a hopeful and positive future for themselves and their children. The refugees are fleeing from persecution, war and violence in their countries. Please listen to this clear message.
The faith that led us over the past centuries to deny war, oppose slavery, support conscientious objection, help rescue Jewish children in the 1930s, care for refugees and rebuild war-torn Europe, impels us today to pledge ourselves to serve our neighbours, whoever and wherever they may be, and to take a principled stand against the belief that violence is the solution to conflict.
We call on those in power to reject military responses, and adopt non-violent strategies to bring about stability and safety for all people.
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Update: Quakers in Britain have also written this response