The Guardian describes as “insensitive” attempts by Christian aid workers to convert Muslim refugees to Christianity during their detention at an asylum center on the island of Lesbos, also know in English as Lesvos, Greece.
On at least two occasions in recent months, aid workers have distributed conversion forms inside copies of Arabic versions of the St John’s gospel to people held at the Moria detention camp on Lesbos.
The forms, seen by the Guardian, invite asylum seekers to sign a statement declaring the following: “I know I’m a sinner … I ask Jesus to forgive my sins and grant me eternal life. My desire is to love and obey his word.”
Muslim asylum seekers who received the booklet said they found the aid workers’ intervention insensitive.
“It’s a big problem because a lot of the people are Muslim and they have a problem with changing their religion,” said Mohamed, a detainee from Damascus. “They were trying this during Ramadan, the holiest Muslim month.”
The Guardian quotes the director of EuroRelief, a Greek NGO providing much of the day-to-day administration of the Moria camp, responding to the accusations.
Euro Relief’s director, Stefanos Samiotakis, said: “I have already taken action, so that our volunteers know very well that they should not distribute any kind of literature. Our code of conduct … says clearly that this is something they simply cannot do and if somebody does we are going as an organisation [to] take disciplinary actions.”
On its Facebook page, however, the EuroRelief organization took a very different tone. Part of a long post, signed with Samiotakis’ name, reads,
The aim of EuroRelief is to provide humanitarian help for all the people in need, either here on Lesvos island but also anywhere there is a humanitarian crisis.
All of us respect and try to protect the refugees rights and we also try to cover their needs in a difficult environment. As an organization we have provided more than 2.000 volunteers since the beginning of the crisis and served hundrends of thousants of refugees. While though we try though to protect the refugees rights we should clearly identify and protect the aid workers rights. …. Even if sometimes we disagree in some issues, religious political or other we have the right to express our personal opinions freely. And this right is something we should all try to protect.
Some of the refugees come from environments that such rights do not exist. They have not experience religious freedom before. We cannot suppress religious freedom here in Greece to make them feel like home. …
The article of Guardian by Patrick Kingsley is reproducing false accusations by Muslims to Christians that came here in Greece many times on their own expences to work 24/7 in a very difficult environment, dirty, under the sun, sometimes without any water in the camp, without any compensation, to help them, to provide for their needs, just because they love them.
A lawyer’s note on “Aid workers’ rights” is appended to the post. Before that appendix, the concluding comment from Samiotakis reads,
Maybe the next big success of The Guardian and Mr. Kingsley would be the article:
“Radical islamists accuse the X christian for blaspheming prophet Y.”
Is this the Europe we want to have?
Instead of trying to comply with the demands of the refugees we have to show them the way of freedom and democracy and love. When there is freedom and somebody is offering you a John’s gospel, DON’T TAKE IT, IT’S THAT SIMPLE. Don’t accuse somebody for giving you the gospel of john.
Featured image: EuroRelief on Facebook timeline photo