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The Religious Freedom in the Word Report launch

Thursday 24th October 2016 - Speakers attending

His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch

Enthroned in May 2014, the Damascus-based Patriarch is leader of the worldwide Syriac Orthodox Church. Born in Kamishly, Syria on 3rd May 1965, he entered the seminary in Lebanon in 1977 and was ordained in 1985. A decade later, he became Metropolitan and Patriarchal Vicar for the Syriac Orthodox Church in the Eastern United States, based in New Jersey. Returning to Syria three years into the current conflict, he has led the Church through a period of unique suffering. In June 2016, he was the alleged target of a Daesh (ISIS)-affiliated suicide bomber who struck at a ceremony in Qamshi, close to Syria’s border with Turkey, held to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the Ottoman genocide against Armenians and Assyrians. At least three people were killed but His Holiness was unharmed. As part of his role, His Holiness travels widely, raising awareness of the situation in Syria and the plight of its people, not least the country’s ancient Christian community.


Dr Sarah Bernstein, Director-General of the Jerusalem Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations.

An Israeli Jew born in the UK, Dr Bernstein has worked in the field of peace-building and co-existence work, specialising in inter-religious dialogue. She was awarded her PhD in Peace and Reconciliation Studies by Coventry University and she was the Israeli editor of the book ‘Women of the Book: A Jerusalem Collage’ and a number of articles dealing with inter-faith relations. As Director of JCJCR, she leads a team which promotes peace through programmes designed to overcome ignorance and prejudice and to foster understanding and empathy between Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land. With the support of Aid to the Church in Need, she established a course aimed at building better community relations in a region afflicted by conflict.


Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch

Based in Dublin, Dr Al-Qadri is an Islamic theologian with Islamic Centre, Ireland. Born into a Muslim family in Pakistan, he moved to Ireland in 2004 and co-founded the Clonee Mosque and a few years later founded the Al-Mustafa Islamic Cultural Centre, in Dublin. The centre has spoken out against extremism and terrorism. He has travelled widely in the West delivering lectures on Islam. also appearing on the media and writing for publications, notably the Irish Times. As a Sunni scholar, he has attended numerous Shi‘a gatherings and has taken a stand in support of inter-faith relations while condemning extremist attacks on Christians in Muslim countries. Last year he organised a protest against Daesh in the centre of Dublin and provided Guidelines to Prevent Radicalisation of Irish Muslims.