Jan Figel, the EU Special Envoy for Religious Freedom and Belief outside the EU, met with Syrian religious leaders in Brussels, led by H.E. Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, Spiritual leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, H.E. Georges Abou Zakhem, Most Reverend Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Homs and H.E. Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, who visited the European Commission this morning.
They brought a petition for peace, signed by over one million Syrian children, as well as drawings and letters from more than 2,000 Syrian schools. This appeal for peace is a joint campaign being carried out by Catholic and Orthodox Christians in Syria, Muslims and religious communities from Aleppo, Damascus, Homs and other cities.
During the meeting, H.E. Patriarch Gregorios III Laham stressed the importance of the children since “they will be the ones to build the new Syria after the war.“
“The petition signed by children means two things: a request for peace and a request for education,” H.E. Georges Abou Zakhem underlined. He also called for the EU “not to consider Christians a minority in Syria.” “We are a very strong and ancient component. Moderate muslims also recognize our ancient aspects,” the Patriarch concluded.
“We want to live in our land, we don’t want to leave,” H.E. Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh said. “There, Church is strong and it can give humanitarian aid . We need the EU to make pressure on the countries involved in the war in Syria to reach peace.”
Ján Figel highlighted that: “In the midst of the ongoing Middle East crisis and violent atrocities that are affecting the whole region, this unified message manifests a strong human appeal to act. Since the earliest days of the European integration, faith communities across our continent have illustrated how a willingness to believe and a dedication to care for others can enrich our lives and our societies. Today, it is our common responsibility to provide support and solidarity to those in need.“
EU Special Envoy for Religious Freedom Figel concluded the meeting by remembering the words of one of Europe’s founding fathers Robert Schuman about the need to have a European soul and expressing solidarity to the Syrian religious leaders.
Pic © European Union , 2016 / Photo: Georges Boulougouris