As floods hit parts of the UK, damaging homes and transport links, let us reflect on the far greater destruction which regularly strikes Iraq and those who live there. This month in FRRME we have been, yet again, attempting to ebb the flow.
Council of Peacemakers
On the 24th September, Sheikh Khaled al-Mulla, the leading Sunni Cleric in Baghdad, met with the ministers of Baghdad’s Protestant churches. At this meeting, Sheikh al-Mulla suggested that a Council of Peacemakers be formed which would meet every month and involve those present, as well as other key Sunni, Shia and Christian leaders. The council would focus not on differences but on how to work together for a better Iraq, both issuing authoritative statements and working to implement them practically.
Joint Christian-Muslim Declaration regarding the Mohammed Film
On the 25th September, Christian, Sunni and Shia leaders met to issue a statement condemning the film ‘Innocence of Muslims’.
We as Christian and Muslim leaders in Iraq totally condemn the recent film criticising Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). We as Christians and Muslims call for all to respect the religion of others and to hold it in highest regard. Having been working together for several years we now declare the establishment of the Iraqi Council of Peacemakers that will meet each month in our desire to overcome all sectarianism and demonstrate our unity.
The declaration was signed by Sayed Jawad Al Khoie (Shia), Sheikh Khaled al Mulla (Sunni), Canon Andrew White (Anglican), Pastor Farouk (Presbyterian) and many others.
Visits from Archdeacon and Open Doors
This month Archdeacon Bill Schwartz visited Baghdad. He was able to meet with various Sunni and Shia leaders on International Peace Day, and met with other Christian leaders to talk about how they can work together, both of which helped to foster unity in Baghdad. He was also able to visit people’s homes and attend services at the church.
We also received a visit from four Open Doors workers. They were able to discuss the situation for Christians in Iraq with the Christian Minister of the Environment and see the hardships of St George’s poor families.
The Death Toll Increases
This month experienced yet another day of mass killing in Iraq. The Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi was convicted of orchestrating large scale violence in a politically charged case, leading to accusations that Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Mailiki is monopolizing power. This was met by increased Sunni attacks around Iraq; Sunday 9th September saw the deaths of over one hundred people.
The publication of the film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ has also led to an escalation of tensions. Many Christians have gone into hiding for fear of reprisals. Pray that God will keep them safe and that further violence will not ensue.
Construction of the Church Toilet Block
St George’s is now in the process of constructing a much needed toilet block. The block even has the luxury of being attached to a sewage system. (Many in Baghdad do not have access to this modern convenience). It is hoped that all work will be complete by the beginning of October.
October Prayer Diary
The prayer diary is now available to download and join us in interceding for Andrew’s work and the work of FRRME in the Middle East during October.