UK marks #Red Wednesday


Westminster Cathedral

Westminster Cathedral

The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St Paul's Cathedral, Brentwood Cathedral, St George's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, St John's Wood Synagogue and the Imam Khoei Islamic Centre in London were among hundreds of public buildings illuminated in blood-red light last night, in an act of solidarity with those around the world suffering persecution because of their faith. During the day many schools, churches and community centres around the country held prayer vigils, and many people wore a red item of clothing.

In London, a red Routemaster bus emblazoned with the words 'Stand up for Faith and Freedom #RedWednesday' set off from Westminster Cathedral for tour of the capital - stopping at the Imam Khoei Islamic Centre, St Paul's Cathedral, St John's Wood Synagogue and Westminster Abbey, before returning to Westminster Cathedral for a prayer vigil in the piazza.

Speaking before the service Patriarch Ignatius said: "Obviously it's very emotional for me because it gives me assurance that there are people... of goodwill, of good faith, different backgrounds, coming together to advocate for peace and for the rights of persecuted people - especially calling to bring to justice those that are perpetrating this violence. It means a lot to me, it means a lot to the average Syrians who're suffering today under persecution and violence.

"When they know that there are people in London getting together, praying and working for peace in Syria... it means a lot."

Lord Alton commented: "If you can have campaigns to protect the whale or to safeguard the rights of foxes, then surely we should be doing something about the rights of people who suffer terrible things for their faith. If people are dying for their faith then we, who have so many privileges and freedoms and liberties, we should live for our faith. That's what Red Wednesday's all about."

The piazza echoed with music from Soul Sanctuary and violinist Cathy Fox. As the Cathedral was gradually soaked in red light, Catherine played a moving lament.

Short prayers and reflections were led by the Anglican Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church, based in Damascus, Dr Sarah Bernstein, Director-General of the Jerusalem Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations, Israel, and Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri Ameer, Head-Imam of the Al-Mustafa Islamic Educational & Cultural Centre, Ireland, Fr Ziad Hilal SJ, a cnfrere of Fr Franz van der Lugt who was murdered in Homs, and representatives from the Sikh and Hindu faiths.

Red Wednesday took place ahead today's launch in the Houses of Parliament today Aid to the Church in Need's 2016 Religious Freedom in the World report which assesses the situation of different faith communities in each of the world's 196 countries.

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