(CEN) [Former Rochester] Bishop Nazir-Ali defends meeting with Assad

The former Bishop of Rochester has rejected claims put forward by some Members of Parliament that a visit by a British delegation to Syria was ill-advised.

In a statement submitted to The Church of England Newspaper, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali said, he, Baroness Cox, Lord Hylton, the Rev Andrew Ashdown and other members of the unofficial delegation had challenged the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad over his indiscriminate use of force in that country’s civil war, which has led to tens of thousands of civilian casualties.

The group’s visit had been attacked in the press for “giving a ”˜war criminal’, that is President Assad, a photo opportunity and a tool for propaganda. In fact, it was a pastoral visit to the people of Syria, especially Christians, who have suffered so much at the hands of jihadist extremists,” he wrote.

“Britain maintains relations with and encourages visits to countries like the Sudan, Iran and Zimbabwe. Why is Assad being demonised to this extent? In the Middle East, the choice is not between angels and monsters but between one kind of monster and another,” Bishop Nazir-Ali said.

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