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Allow Layan Nasir to come home, pleads Bishop of Gloucester

28 June 2024

Bishop Treweek with the family of Layan Nasir, and the Revd Fadi Diab, on 16 June

Bishop Treweek with the family of Layan Nasir, and the Revd Fadi Diab, on 16 June

THE Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, has visited the family of Layan Nasir, the 23-year-old Anglican in the occupied West Bank who has been detained by Israel since April (News, 12 April, 3 May).

Bishop Treweek visited Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank last week. On Sunday, 16 June, she had lunch with Ms Nasir’s parents and two brothers, one of whom is her twin. The family was visited by the Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, last month (News, 17 May).

In an interview for the Church Times Podcast this week, the Bishop spoke of hearing from the family about Ms Nasir’s arrest at gunpoint after 15 Israeli soldiers burst into her home. Bishop Treweek spoke of the family’s desperation to visit her, and said that her lawyer had not been permitted to see her.

Ms Nasir is a member of the congregation of St Peter’s, Birzeit, whose Rector, the Revd Fadi Diab, has not been permitted to visit her. “He should be allowed to do that,” Bishop Treweek said.

“We did hear from someone who had been with her, and recently been released, that she is in good heart. She’s staying very positive. But it’s just a desperate situation of her being held under this awful situation of administrative detention, in contravention of the Geneva Convention and international law, . . . and not knowing when she will be released. . .

“So we are praying and speaking out loudly in the hope that, when her case is heard, when the review happens at the beginning of August, that she will be released back to her family, who simply want her home.”

Bishop Treweek’s itinerary also included a visit to the Military Court attached to Ofer Prison, near the West Bank city of Ramallah; a meeting with the Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, Bethlehem, the Revd Dr Munther Isaac; and a visit to the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, where Christians are trying to protect their land from development.

She also prayed in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. “As you stand in the present, listening to the past and looking to the future, the only hope I cling on to is that unfathomable hope of Christ’s resurrection,” she said.

The Bishop also had conversations at Hebrew Union College, in Jerusalem, with Rabbi Dr Michael Marmur, of Rabbis for Human Rights, who is associate professor of Jewish theology; and the Archbishop in Jerusalem, Dr Hosam Naoum.

Bishop Treweek had previously attended a UN meeting in New York at which she heard the perspectives of Israelis; a few hours later, she attended a meeting led by representatives of the occupied Palestinian territories.

“What was so stark for me was that the Israeli session focused on 7 October and the atrocities of Hamas, but did not reference the war in Gaza. And then the session led by the Palestinians focused on the horror, and the continuing horror, of the war in Gaza, but did not reference the hostages or the atrocities of Hamas.

“For me, that highlights something really significant, which is that we are not in a place where people can stand in one another’s shoes. And we can only do that when there is a level playing field for people.”

Listen to the interview here.

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