Reverend Andrew Ashdown is an Anglican priest in England. He has been visiting and leading groups to the Middle East for over 25 years, and has visited Syria four times since April 2014, both as a member of faith delegations, and more recently independently. Andrew is undertaking research into Christian/Muslim relations in the region.Ashdown gives a graphic picture of Syria's current situation through the eyes of Syrians while conversing with many of them in a Damascus cafe.
That evening I joined a group of young Muslim [Sunni and Alawite] and Christian friends in a bustling Damascene cafe in the Old City, where Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christian, Alawite, from all parts of the country still mingle quite happily. Talking to people it is evident that no-one has escaped the horrors of war – whether it be close friends,loved ones killed and/or kidnapped, and/or homes and livelihoods destroyed. Yet, whilst realistic about the multiple complexities of the realities, all are determined to keep living, and most want to preserve the integrity of Syria, and reject the sectarian agendas that outside forces are creating.