News / Middle East

Lebanon's 'Garden of Forgiveness' Aims to Nurture Peace

Garden of Forgiveness to Heal Wounds of Wari
X
April 12, 2013 2:07 AM
Lebanon’s Garden of Forgiveness is a work in progress conceived by British-Lebanese citizen and psychotherapist Alexandra Asseily. It aims to nurture peace and healing in a country still recovering from a 15-year civil war of religious factions.But the garden has been beset by delays. Last month, Asseily hosted a ceremony near the garden, bringing together people from all religious backgrounds to celebrate their common beliefs. Paige Kollock reports from Beirut.
Paige Kollock
Lebanon’s Garden of Forgiveness is a work in progress conceived by British-Lebanese citizen and psychotherapist Alexandra Asseily. It aims to nurture peace and healing in a country still recovering from a 15-year civil war of religious factions. But the garden has been beset by delays. Last month, Asseily hosted a ceremony near the garden, bringing together people from all religious backgrounds to celebrate their common beliefs.

Alexandra Asseily first came to Lebanon in 1966. She married a Lebanese man and raised her children in Lebanon.

Then, in 1975, Lebanon's civil war broke out.

“During the war I became very distressed about how is it possible that we as human beings can, from one day to another, go from being nice happy people to fighters, killers, destroyers,” Asseily said.

So, in 1998, Asseily came up with the idea for the Garden of Forgiveness. It was approved and then designed by two well-known architects and is located between archaeological relics and religious structures in the heart of Beirut.

Over the years, the garden became a symbol of peace.

In 2005, family members of September 11 victims visited the garden. They planted an olive tree and, under it, buried photos of loved ones who were killed in the attacks.   

But in 2006, with Lebanon at war again, work on the garden was suspended.

The project is still stalled because of a disagreement between the developer who owns the land and a nearby Lebanese Army base.  

Last month, during of The Feast of the Annunciation - a religious holiday celebrated by Christians and some Muslims -- Lebanese gathered at the Nourieh shrine, just nearby, to express solidarity.

The garden is situated on what was known during the civil war as “the green line.” At the time, it separated Christian and Muslim parts of the city. Ziad Mikati of the Islamic-Christian Foundation says it's the perfect site for the garden.

“In this area, where we have three cathedrals and thee mosques around us. It's a sign from God to all of us that, over here where the olive trees are growing and where the Annunciation was made very visible, to come together and start worshiping together for one cause, which is Lebanon,” Mikati said.

During the ceremony, religious leaders read together and individuals from sects that once battled each other recounted the pain of their wartime experiences.

Asseily hopes gatherings like this will keep the garden project alive.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Natasha from: Germany
April 11, 2013 10:47 PM
Arabs Muslims with Western passports are the biggest terrorist threat that threatens Europe.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs