Inspire Dialogue Introductions: Baraa Halabieh

English/Arabic translator

“What makes humanity so beautiful is our multiculturalism… the variety in our colours, cultures and beliefs is what makes us all unique.”

As an asylum-seeker in the UK, I am one of the ‘strangers’ coming here from the Middle-East. So the question that I ask is: how can we reduce the fear and suspicion that all of us have about strangers? I think the first thing is that we should all start asking ourselves questions. What do we know about these people? Why are they coming here? What are they looking for? What do we know about their culture and their history? Are there any points of commonality between our history and theirs? Many people, when trying to find answers, go to the media, but the media focus on just a part of the truth to support their own agendas. But when we start researching by ourselves, we discover truths which can be unexpected, or even shocking. For instance, we might find out that the patron saint of England, St George, was born in Turkey to a Syrian mother. Another fact, which I discovered only recently, is that the Roman Empire used 500 archers from my home city in Syria, Hama, to protect Hadrian’s Wall in England.

The second point is that I believe we need to start conversations. In every city, in every community, there is a stranger, someone whom we could look at as ‘another’, and this is the best way to break the ice. When you start a conversation, within the first five minutes you quickly discover that this person is bright, talented, educated, just like you. We all have the same dreams, the same fears – and one of the fears we as asylum-seekers have is not being accepted here and of being judged for the actions of a minority, in which we did not participate.

What makes humanity so beautiful is our multiculturalism. There is no pure race: the variety in our colours, cultures and beliefs is what makes us all unique. There is so much more which unites us than divides us.

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