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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Victim of Daesh to address Scottish youth

A youth rally is to take place uniting young people from across Scotland in an act of solidarity with those who are persecuted or oppressed for their religious faith.

The keynote address will be given by 20-year-old Sarmad Ozan, who fled Mosul, northern Iraq, after it was seized by Daesh in the summer of 2014.

Two years after leaving Iraq, Mr Ozan now lives in the UK and will speak at the Scottish Youth Rally in Carfin Lourdes Grotto, near Motherwell.

The event, on Thursday, 16th June starting at 10am, is being organised by the Scottish office of Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic charity for persecuted Christians.

Bishop John Keenan of Paisley and Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell will attend, representing the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.

The event follows a similar rally held last year when 1,200 youngsters declared support for oppressed Christians in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and Pakistan, where persecution has increased dramatically.

The event comes at a time of ongoing efforts to persuade governments, especially those in the West, to recognise Daesh atrocities in Iraq and Syria as a genocide against minorities including Christians and Yazidis.

The focus of the day on 16th June will be to raise awareness, encourage prayer, and take action in support of the persecuted Church.

ACN is calling on attendees to show the Scottish Government that young people want to stand up for religious freedom.
Each school will invite their students to petition the Scottish Government to promote religious freedom around the world.

The petition reads: ‘We call on the Scottish Government to stand with ACN Scotland in promoting religious freedom around the world through: 1) Prayer 2) Solidarity 3) Inter-faith dialogue.’

Those unable to attend the event will be able to follow the rally via Twitter @ACN_Scotland and using #ACNYouthRally.

“ACN Scotland is very excited to be holding our second youth rally,” said event organiser and ACN’s Head of Operations in Scotland, Lorraine McMahon.

“The rally is an opportunity for the youth of this country to stand up and be counted and say we will not sit back as Daesh eradicates Christianity and other minority groups from the Middle East.

“Come and join us in June to learn about the forgotten human rights issue of the day,” Ms McMahon added.

“We are very fortunate in Scotland to live in a country where we can freely live out our faith. However, Christians in areas with severe religious intolerance pay a heavy price for their faith including, physical torture, rape, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death.”

Schools must register in order to attend. Registration needs to be completed online and is now open at:

Registration closes on Monday, 13th June 2016.

Picture: 2015 ACN Youth Rally. (© Aid to the Church in Need).