Caabu board member addresses Syrian Arab Association of the North of England

Posted by Caabu on 03 Feb 2011 | Comments

On Saturday 15 January, Caabu Board Member John McHugo was guest of the Syrian Arab Association of the North of England at the Hilton Hotel in Sheffield where he gave a talk about his own impressions of Syria. John first went to Syria in 1974 as a student, when he walked through the mountains from Krac des Chevaliers to Masyaf. In more recent years, he has been going regularly to Damascus where his wife has a courtyard house in Shaghour. 

He told his audience how positive news about Syria is often overlooked in the West. He cited the good relations between Syrian Muslims and Christians, and how it is often impossible for a Westerner to tell them apart. Another praiseworthy aspect of Syria is the welcome it has given to refugees from conflicts which were not of its making – including the Armenian and other Christian refugees from Turkey in the 1920s, the Palestinian refugees made homeless by the creation of Israel, and most recently the Iraqi refugees terrified into leaving their country by the chaos caused by the invasion of Iraq in 2003. 

He set out the sad story of the dismemberment of the Arabic speaking Ottoman provinces by the Western powers after World War One. “Unless Western people learn about this, they cannot understand the divide which has opened up between the West and the Arabs today,” he said. “It might help if more people had a better idea of the things we share. For instance, how many British people are aware that Syrian soldiers once manned Hadrian’s Wall?”