Expat Scottish minister opens church as a refuge for HK protestors

Published:  25 Nov at 6 PM
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As violence in Hong Kong intensifies, a Scottish expat minister has opened her church as a refuge for protestors.

Scottish minister of religion Maggie Mathieson told local reporters her Kowloon Union Church is now a refuge for demonstrators needing a place of safety as the eight-month long protests grow ever more violent. Mathieson’s dismay as she watched Hong Kong residents’ lives shatter in a way not seen for the past 20 years gave her the impetus to provide a safe haven for protestors risking police action during what began as a peaceful demonstration against a law threatening people’s rights to a fair trial.

Matheson has watched the ongoing clashes involving as many as two million protestors as the increasing violence continues to hit world media, and is now fearing the seemingly unending conflict will cause devastating economic consequences as businesses and expat professionals shut down or leave and tourists stay away. The initial movement, she says, was peaceable, but now destruction and violence have taken over, eroding Hong Kong’s basic culture and shattering the lives of residents and expats alike. Commentators now believe the situation is desperate due to young people’s fears of losing their identity should full-on Chinese dominance be the end result.

Mathieson first arrived in Hong Kong to take up a teaching position before studying theology and becoming ordained in 2011. As regards offering sanctuary to protestors, she and her two other pastors believe it’s simply the right thing to do, with the decision not linked in any way to personal politics. Nowadays, the island’s atmosphere is restrictive, transportation is severely affected and important mass transportation links shut down as night falls. Small businesses, hotels and restaurants are closing as tourism tanks, and everyday Hong Kong citizens as well as expats are fearful for their future.

The battle, says Mathieson, is now for democracy itself, although she cannot support protestors’ or police violence as a means to an end. She’s unwilling to leave the island, considering it a privilege most young people on the streets can’t access and adding she’s made Hong Kong her home, no matter what the end result of the protests may be.
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