Talking for peace (Jim Al-Khalili and Faez Jirjees)
Talking for peace (Jim Al-Khalili and Faez Jirjees)

You can help bring hope and peace to Iraq this month

A special event this month will help raise money for our peacebuilding work in Iraq. Please read this week’s e-newsletter for more information and for details about how you can come along. 

Republic of Fear

It is 1979. The central committee of the Ba’ath party in Iraq are sat in a conference room in Baghdad. Saddam Hussein is sat on a stage in front of them smoking a large cigar. Suddenly, a broken man is brought onto the stage. He stumbles through a confession implicating himself and others in a plot to destroy Iraq. The man begins to read out a list of names. Every time a name is read out, guards grab that central committee member and lead him out of the room. Panic spreads. The men still in the room begin to shout “glory to Saddam Hussein our leader, all praise to him” in the hope it will save them. By the end of the purge, only half the men are left, the others are imprisoned or executed. A chilling video of this event is on YouTube – it is the exact moment Saddam seized power in Iraq.

Two men emerge

1979 was the year Jim Al-Khalili left Iraq. He was 17 years old. He would go on to become a world-renowned physicist, award winning author and broadcaster. His debut novel, Sunfall, was published this year to critical acclaim.

That same year and in that same city, a 13 year old boy called Faez Jirjees pondered his future. He is now the Chaplain of St George’s in Baghdad, the only Anglican Church in Iraq, and has been honoured by the British and Iraqi governments for his reconciliation work.

On Tuesday 24th September, these two extraorindary men will be talking at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. Information and tickets for this event are available on Eventbrite here (part of the cost of your ticket will go towards funding our work).

Professor Jim Al-Khalili

The son of a Shia Muslim father and a Protestant mother, Jim Al-Khalili has said that he doesn’t have a religious bone in his body, describing himself as a “cuddly atheist”. Jim will share his experience as a child in Iraq, what drew him to ask questions about the nature of the universe, and his thoughts on the future of humankind. Jim has kindly agreed to do this talk to help us raise money for our work in Iraq and Jordan.

Revd Faez Jirjees

As Chaplain of St George’s Church in Baghdad, Faez has had his faith tested. He has seen people do awful things in the name of religion but sees everyday how much God means to his beleaguered congregation. As the first Iraqi ordained in the Anglican Church, Faez is uniquely placed to comment on the sectarianism that has torn his country apart. He does not subscribe to any of the long-standing animosities that plague his homeland. Instead, Faez acts as a bridge-builder between the different religions, a job that comes with considerable risks.

Given restrictions on travel and the needs of his congregation, this is the first time in 7 years that Faez has visited the UK. It is a rare opportunity to meet the man in person. 

If you would like to buy tickets for this event, please visit the Eventbrite page we have set up. Alternatively, for more information, please contact us at admin@frrme.org