KRAKOW, Poland, July 29, 2016 – Despite the persecution of Christians, tensions, and violence in their home country, a group of 16 Syrian nationals made their way to this city to celebrate World Youth Day (WYD) and to pray for peace.
“As [a] Syrian WYD pilgrim, our message all over the world [is] we want just peace and love. We pray for our people there in Syria,” said Fouad Abou Al Naser in an exclusive interview with YouthPinoy during the closing of the Days in the Diocese and Holy Mass at Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw on Sunday.
He said his special prayer during the WYD is for the war in Syria to end.
“It is a decision. Not just a decision but [an] act. [Keep] their hands off … Syria and it will be fine very soon,” he stressed.
Not a civil war
According to Naser, Syria also suffers from the wrong perception that Syrians are terrorists and that the country is caught up in a civil war.
“It is really difficult to explain exactly, what is happening there… As you see, our news on the media and we feel like it is too bad to have this image [of] Syrians [as terrorists] all over the world… What [is] in the media is really wrong, it is like propaganda,” he explained.
According to Naser, people do not really know about the real suffering of the people in Syria and poor media coverage instead creates “bad impressions” about the country.
He also pointed to the timeliness of the WYD theme “’Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’ (Mt 5:7)” in the face of the prevalence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)’s persecution of Christians.
In 2014, the jihadist group ISIS seized areas in Syria and Iraq. The group is known for its its brutality, mass killings, beheadings, and terrorist attacks in several places in Europe like France and Belgium.
More than one million young people are estimated to be in this city to join the WYD celebrations from July 26 to 31. (Shirley Paynor / CBCPNews)