Last week, with little fanfare and under heavy security, an historic meeting took place in Rome which marked a turning point in interfaith relations. Inside the 16th century Casina Pio IV villa, home to the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences, seven clerics representing over five billion people overcame lingering traditions of suspicion to commit to the eradication of modern day slavery by the year 2020.
The news is worrying. Maryam faces charges of insulting the King, assaulting an official (authorities say there was a scuffle when they took Maryam's phone, from which she was tweeting her experience), and running an organisation which named officials who had tortured political prisoners. She could face a long sentence.
Along with the hope that "The Arab Spring" gave the world, it now seems that attempts at establishing some form of democracy in Lebanon, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere have not worked out so well for the US and the West. Perhaps it is time for the US and the West to rethink its mission as "Champion of Democracy" and "Keeper of World Peace".
The last thing we need is to import sectarianism into our country. Al-Arifi may have done us all a favour by coming to the UK since it has focussed on the need for better due diligence to be undertaken and to make us all wake up to the fact that whilst Syria may seem a long way away, its impacts can so easily affect our community relations in our small island.