On Friday 07 April a hundred people gathered outside Bath Abbey to demonstrate against the atrocities in Syria, in particular the recent chemical weapons attack on the town of Idlib. The demonstration was initiated by a refugee who has recently settled in Bath with her family having fled Syria. In the process she has left her friends and family behind, some of whom live in the town of Idlib.
The refugee family have been supported by Bath Welcomes Refugees, an a-political, a-religious organisation working to bring to safety and security in the UK those people persecuted and in danger in their own countries and homelands.
Below are two short interviews. The first is with the Chair and founder of Bath Welcomes Refugees, Bernie Howley. The second is with the refugee, mother and wife who initiated the demonstration.
The Bishop of Bath and Wells and the Bishop of Taunton offered their own comment of personal support for the demonstration on Friday. They said in a statement: “We condemn the atrocities taking place in Syria and stand in solidarity with the refugees and others who are demonstrating to end the violence in Bath today. We will continue to hold all refugees around the world in our prayers, particularly in the wake of the news of the horrific attacks in Idlib this week. We urge political leaders to work together to find a solution to the Syrian conflict and bring peace to all those affected.”
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering… Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
Hebrews 13. 1-3 & 12-14
Jesus was born and very soon became a refugee in Egypt. At his death, he was crucified outside the city gates. He was rejected by his own people and from the beginning to the end, some people tried to exclude him, drive him out of town, get rid of him. Tonight, we remember how he was betrayed in the garden, placed under arrest and suffered mockery, humiliation, and torture before his execution. It’s difficult to fathom why we, as a human race, haven’t learned to respect and care for one another, given the two thousand years since those events. But clearly we haven’t, and people are still displaced, made refugees, tortured and killed. Yet, as is demonstrated in one of the videos referred to above there are people who seek to stand with those who seem to have no-one. And Bernie gives some practical advice as to what we can all do about Syria and those fleeing from it and places like it:
- Let those in authority (MPs and such like) know how we feel
- Show some personal solidarity with those who are being treated unpleasantly in our own society
- Join with those who are making a stand in order to form a collective response
We first shared this story as part of the Bishops’ Lent Appeal 2017