Little love for Muslim refugees among Latvia's Christians

Take note – story published 8 years ago

From the world wide web and the government, the refugee matter has moved to the spiritual plane as well. The pope has asked believers to help refugees and to give them sanctuary. The Russian-language program of Latvian Television 7, Segodnya Vecherom, reavealed on Wednesday that not all Latvian Christians are ready to help people with a religion different from their own.

The Pontifex Maximus was heard around here, but not everyone is keen on opening their doors and hearts. Representatives of the Roman Catholic Church admit that even though asylum seekers shouldn't be sorted by their religious affiliation, it's not always the case in praxis

"It would be quite devious to say that there's complete harmony among Christians and everyone thinks that religious beliefs don't have any meaning. It is obvious that it's easier to integrate or accept people for whom this means something," said Ingrīda Lisenkova, the head of the information center of the Latvian Roman Catholic Church.

"For example, in one private talk a case was mentioned when a monastery admitted 300 Muslim refugees. After some time they started to voice their own pretensions, for example, [asking] to remove Christian symbols," she said.

While the Latvian Lutheran Archbishop Jānis Vanags said that it's irresponsible to ask people to welcome everyone without exception to their home. 

"There are parishes that have said that they have unused buildings. They are proposing to host refugees there. One family has offered their empty house in the village. But, in our parishes, we mostly talk about [sheltering] Christians," he said. 

The Latvian Orthodox Church declined to comment.

While the Islamic community has its own rules: they are glad to welcome more Muslims, but not all of them.

"We would be glad if people who practice Islam came here. Sadly, though, we often see them arriving to Europe and losing their religion," said Ahmed Robert Klimovich, representative of the Islamic cultural center.

But even when people want to help, they don't know how. The religious communities say as much — parishes that are ready to accept asylum seekers just don't know how to do it and where to turn for the cause. Where can one seek financial support and for how long the refugees will live hosted by them? 

The Interior Ministry explains: from October the main coordination center is the Drošā māja shelter, and you should turn there should you have any practical suggestions.

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