Published: 19/11/2016 16:47 - Updated: 19/11/2016 16:53

Light a candle for Aleppo


General Assembly moderator the Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr and Syrian refugee Gais Masri.
General Assembly moderator the Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr and Syrian refugee Gais Masri.

Communities across the country are being urged to support ‘A light for Aleppo, a light for all’, by lighting candles on Sunday 20 November as a gesture of support for the men, women and children trapped in the besieged Syrian city.

Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr, Moderator of the General Assembly, says the initiative is all the more timely now the bombing of Aleppo has resumed following an all too brief ceasefire.

Launched by the Chaplaincy of the University of Edinburgh, the Light for Aleppo initiative is encouraging communities and individuals everywhere to light beacons or candles at 5pm on Sunday 20 November, as signs of vigilance and hope.

Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr says:

"The darkness that is Aleppo has filled the news reports for weeks and months: the seemingly endless bombardment, the terrible suffering of the people, and the inability—or unwillingness—of the international community to bring the conflict to an end.

"What can we do to offer support and assure the people of Aleppo their suffering is not forgotten?

"Given it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness, on Sunday evening I will join many others to light a light for Aleppo. And I will pray that ‘ the people who walk in darkness will see a great light’ and it will bring them the hope of peace. I personally will be in Dumfries, and while this event has its heart in the Capital, I would hope people around Scotland will join me in taking part."

Harriet Harris, University Chaplain says:

"The intention is for the coastlines of East Lothian and Fife to be lit up, leading out from Edinburgh, and also that beacons of light could spread around our coastlines, inland, and to anywhere in the world.

"It would be wonderful if the churches of Edinburgh could support this, encouraging ministers and congregations to hold gatherings. It really will be the church networks that could make this work as a public event on an inspirational scale, so as to bring hope."

"The beacons can be as simple as lighting a candle in a window, though we are also hoping for a fair few community gatherings, with the churches being integral to this vision.

"We have already heard from people in other parts of the UK and in other countries who intend to join in. In this way, a path of light might well reach from here to Aleppo, or at least to Syrian borders, and spread hope, and may even help save lives."

Gais Masri, 19, who came to Scotland from Syria two years ago, said the Light for Aleppo initiative gives him hope. He says:

“It’s sad to hear that people from your country are dying every day and the places where you have loads of memories are destroyed, so this means a lot to me. It means that people are thinking about us and they did not forget us and there is still hope that war will end in Syria and everything might be fine.

Masri, who is studying electrical engineering in the hope that he will one day be able to return to Syria and help rebuild the country, says the Scottish people have welcomed him and his friends here are like a new family.

“I will never forget what the Scottish people have done for me and my family,” he said. “Even if I can go back to Syria and help my country I will never forget Scotland.”

Events are planned around the country, especially at coastlines. The Cromarty Peace Group, for example, will be gathering around a fire at the harbour.

Alan McDonald, a member of the peace group said, “We will be gathering around a fire at Cromarty Harbour to be part of this powerful initiative to bring light into the darkness.”

The Chaplaincy is also asking participants to collect funds for the charities Oxfam and Medecins Sans Frontieres, which are both working to save lives in Aleppo.

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