PHOTO: Prince Charles joins cultural dancers after the consecration of the new St Thomas Cathedral, Syriac Orthodox Church

TheBy Staff Reporter

The scandal of how UK officials denied entry to Britain to three Archbishops from Iraq and Syria who have been driven from their dioceses by Islamic State, was revealed last week by persecuted church agency Barnabas Fund.

The cause was taken up by British newspapers at the weekend under headlines like as ‘Britain bans heroic bishops’. Barnabas Fund this week claimed that Britain’s reputation for giving safe haven to the persecuted is at risk after it refused short term entry visas for the three Archbishops from war-torn Iraq and Syria. The two were invited to London to meet Prince Charles at the consecration of a new cathedral for the Syrian Orthodox Church in London. Prime Minister Theresa May was one of those who sent messages to the congregation to welcome the presence of Syrian Christians.

But there was no ‘room at the inn’ for the Archbishop of Mosul, the Archbishop of Homs and the Archbishop of St Matthew’s Valley (Nineveh Valley). According to Barnabas Fund, the reasons given for their visas being refused included the claim that they did not have enough money to support themselves in the UK and that they might not leave the UK.

Yet, according to a Syriac Orthodox leader the Home Office knew that the men have pressing pastoral responsibilities in their own dioceses now that their dioceses previously held by IS are being liberated. Not only that, the archbishops are reported to have long-term visas for several other western countries including the USA and the EU’s Schengen zone.

The leader of the UK’s Syriac Orthodox Christians, Archbishop Athanasius Thoma Dawod condemned the decision: “We cannot understand why Britain is treating Christians in this way?”

Dr Martin Parsons, Head of Research at Barnabas Fund contrasted the treatment of Christian leaders with the more favourable treatment that Islamist radicals have received.

This summer two Pakistani Imams were given visas to tour UK mosques. They were both prominent supporters of the Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws and advocates of the killing of Christians accused of blasphemy.

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