As Aleppo finally sees peace dawn, the peace pilgrimage to Ireland of Syria’s major religious leaders is very newsworthy because
1. It is unprecedented not only in Ireland but also in all of Western Europe during the current Syrian Crisis to have such a venerable delegation of Syrians. It is a very Irish coup.
2. It shows a unity of purpose amongst Syria’s Muslim and Christian religious leaders to travel anywhere, even to tiny Ireland, l’île derrière l’île, as the French say, to spread their peace message.
3. It shows there are very many people in Ireland who are willing, able and determined to enable and empower in ways big and small the Syrians in their great quest for peace.
4. It sets a precedent both in Ireland and in Europe that can and must be replicated to allow peace to return to the Syrian Arab Republic.
5. The words of the great Martin Luther King Jr that “in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” still hold true but not, in this the centenary of 1916, for all Irish people.and that very many of us, joined by our gallant allies in Europe, are fully prepared to help the Syrian people emerge from this great nightmare and that Gulf State money cannot buy those of us who are not for sale. ¡No pasarán!
6. We are not powerless if we stand with these venerable Syrian religious leaders in their quest for peace. We have no holier cause.
7. We are assembling an Irish (and other) fact finding delegation to the Syrian Arab Republic for St Patrick’s Day, March 17th and we are confident of having a parade there to honour our national saint and much more so, the heroic women and children of the Syrian Republic, whose sacrifices prove the Irish proverb that It is not those who can inflict the most, but those that can suffer the most who will prevail. As well as performing life-saving operations, our medical partners will see the deplorable state Ireland’s sanctions have reduced Syria’s maternity wards to.
8. Our European and other partners are willing to ferry Irish medical and other aid free of charge from Dublin to Damascus where the offices of the Grand Mufti and the venerable Patriarchs will ensure it is equitably distributed.
Media Queries: email me
from Patriarch Laham and Dr Bashir Mohamad are available by scrolling down on the wesavesyria.com
website. Please quote/use these excellent resources freely.
Tuesday 29 November
Syriac Holy Qurbono: His Holiness, Ignatius Aphrem II Of Antioch, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, world spiritual leader of the Syriac Orthodox Church,.will perform the Holy Qurbono for the 500 members of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church (Jacobite Syrian Christian Church), which is an integral branch of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Dublin on the evening of Tuesday 29th November. Media who wish to cover this private event should contact me by phone or email in the first instance.
Holy Qurbono: The Syriac Qurbono has its roots in the West Semitic Aramaic culture and language that Jesus spoke and that Syriacs still converse in to this day in the ruins of the ransacked city of Ma’loula and other parts of the Syrian Arab Republic, where His Holiness is based. Some say it is the oldest of all Christian liturgies. It is certainly among the most beautiful and moving.
Visual Extravaganza: As the Qurbono is such a wonder of majesty, splendour and spirituality, this unique service deserves to be extensively reported.
Wednesday 30 November. Trinity College, Dublin. Trinity are our main partners here and their media dept will handle most queries. As seating is very limited, it is mostly by invite only.
5pm College Chapel: His Holiness will join his Syrian religious colleagues His Grace, Dr Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria, His Beatitude, Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and Alexandria and Jerusalem, world spiritual leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, together with clergy from all the main Abahamic and other religions in a united prayer of peace for Syria. Trinity’s acclaimed choristers, senior Trinity academics, politicians, senior Irish medical personnel and senior members of the diplomatic corps will be present for this event.
6pm: Commons. Trinity Dining Hall. The Syrian religious leaders will join senior Trinity academics, politicians, senior Irish medical personnel and senior members of the diplomatic corps for Commons and to discuss further initiatives to forward the Syrian peace process. As seating is limited and as far too many wish to attend, I have foregone my place and will not attend, Other fish to fry.
7pm-9pm: Open Meeting, to be Addressed by these venerable Syrian religious leaders and senior Syrian surgeons and to be chaired by a senior Trinity academic.
8pm: Anti Extremist Declaration: His Grace will sign the anti-extremist document, as drawn up by our partners in the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council (Impic) and allied bodies.
Thursday 1st. Houses of the Oireachtas, Leinster House, Kildare Street 8.45am-11.15 am.
The delegation of Syrian religious and medical leaders will appear before The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) in Committee Room 1, Their appearance will be broadcast live from about 9.15 am to 11 am GMT at this link on and going to the Committee Room 1 link.
11.15 am: His Holiness will briefly join the other members of the delegation to answer some questions outside Leinster House before departing for other appointments.
1.15 pm: Wreath-laying ceremony. His Grace and His Beatitude will jointly lay a wreath at the small monument at the corner of Trinity College and Kildare Street to commemorate all victims of violence, in Dublin and in Syria in particular. We will have a respectable crowd for this short, dignified commemoration of all victims of such violence.
2pm-3pm: Press Conference, Buswell’s Hotel. His Grace and His Beatitude will be joined by senior Syrian surgeons for this press briefing. Because this is filling up quickly, most likely not everyone can be accommodated. As it is a press conference, priority will be given to the media, our NGO partners & our various other partners in allocating seating and standing.
Friday 2nd December
His Grace will lead Irish Muslims in the Jumu’ah. This is a congregational prayer (ṣalāt) that Muslims hold every Friday, just after noon instead of the Zuhr prayer. Our Muslim partners are organising that and a number of other peace initiatives too.