Saturday, August 25, 2012

London´s teenagers fighting in Syria

During my stay in London while improving my English, I like to keep up to date with current affairs and to reflect on them in context. Going to school everyday by bus and tube I have the opportunity to read free newspapers. At Vauxhall bus station I pick up the world´s most popular free newspaper “Metro”. It takes about 10-12 minutes to reach Euston station (depending on the crowds of people getting on and off trains) and I skim the headlines on the 88 pages of the “Metro”. When travelling home at 4 p.m. I collected another free newspaper “London Evening Standard” at Euston Station. It´s always interesting to go through it. You often come across the main news events of the day and local news.

This week in Thursday´s London Evening Standard I came across an article written by Kiran Randhawa talking about two young men from London who had joined the Syrian rebels. ( The teenagers, both 19, born in London, of Syrian descent, told their families that they were going on holiday. Since the conflict started, its causes had been a topic for discussion at home. These teenagers decided it was time to take part in these historical events in their homeland. They planned to return to London for the start of their University courses. They were strongly committed in their personal support for the rebels. So they are spending the holiday with guns in their hands. Fluent Arabic, sufficient money to pay their way and a firm belief in the cause – these three conditions must be fulfilled by any other guy who would like to go with them, they said!

On Friday night when I read (Salesian News Agency – ANS) two articles about the situation in Syria (, I remembered these two London guys. I would suggest that we need to think about the impact on everyday life of so many people – in this long suffering country and also in the Syrian Diaspora. No armed conflict can make life better for people. These whose suffer most are always ordinary people, elderly and children. It is not only their material welfare which is destroyed but also their experience of growing up. Values have been undermined and life perspective darkened by civil war.

Finally we need to remember that all these young guys fighting in Syria were created by God – to love and to be loved, filled with joy and to contribute to establishment of a peaceful human society. Education based on reason and responsibility has never been more necessary than now.