Refugees & Migrants: churches & mosques working together
- Created on Wednesday, 20 April 2016
The Muslim World League hosted an informal meeting of the Christian Muslim Forum to hear stories from Muslims and Christians who have been supporting people making their way along the migrant trail in Europe - in Greece, Macedonia and Hungary.
We listened to some very difficult stories: the experiences of the volunteers themselves and the conditions along the route, but also what they have been told by the families escaping violence and intolerable conditions in Daesh/ISIS-controlled territory and other war-torn parts of the Middle East and Asia.
After supper, prayers were offered by Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Revd Bonnie Evans-Hills, Parish Priest and Inter Faith Adviser to the Diocese of St Albans and Elliot Steinberg of the Council of Christians and Jews.
We are grateful to Eslam El-Soudani, Jo Winsloe (St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace) and Syed Hussein (Al-Khair Foundation) for sharing their stories and to the artists, activists and religious leaders who joined us, including those who support Christian Aid. Steve Miller (Faith-based Regeneration Network) was with us and we were delighted that our host, the Muslim World League Secretary General, Dr. Abdullah bin Abdul Mohsin Al-Turki, was able to join us for some of the discussion. Our thanks also goes to the Near Neighbours Programme who supported the gathering.
CMF ran a full workshop at the Near Neighbours National Conference in Leeds. The Prezi from the workshop can be viewed here. The last year has seen shifts in public perception and public policy as stories of death and desperation have hit the headlines. The refugee crisis has been integrated into British culture - Songs of Praise broadcast from Calais and the Lampedusa Cross joining the permanent collection at the British Museum. People have been stuffing black bags, hiring minibuses to go to Calais, filling containers to send to Syria and travelling themselves to Greek islands and the European mainland.
The participants came from across the country and from different faith traditions. The room contained a high level of experience and expertise. Action points included:
- volunteer training
- education to challenge negative media stereotypes
- EU advocacy for safeguarding the vulnerable
- combating fear and reiterating refugee history
- provide support for integration
- improve the religious literacy of local authorities
- supporting primary schools with high levels of children seeking asylum/refugees