We exist to promote conflict resolution and reconciliation
Reconciliation is the keystone of our work. Conflict in the Middle East nearly always has a religious component. This is because it is a region where Sunni and Shia Muslims continue to vie for supremacy. Essentially, it is a schism within Islam which has been raging since the death of the Prophet Muhammad. To make matters worse, Christians and other minorities are often caught in the crossfire.
We are building links with moderates of all sides. For example, we recently met with Ayatollah Hussein al-Sadr (pictured above), one of Iraq’s most senior Shia clerics. He spoke movingly of our “common humanity”, a stunningly simple yet powerful message in a land torn apart by war.
As a Christian charity operating in a predominantly Muslim part of the world, we must be sensitive to our surroundings. We do not proselytise the faith, nor do we assert Christianity as the solution to the ongoing troubles. Our role is to relieve the suffering of Christians and other persecuted minorities. In doing so, we employ people from different religious backgrounds. Our current staff includes Anglicans, Greek Orthodox, Chaldeans, Muslims and Jews.
Two years of ISIS tyranny has all but destroyed the pluralist society of Iraq. The terror group is accused of committing genocide against the Yazidis. Iraq’s Christian population has dwindled from 1.5 million in 2003 to less than 200,000 today. Other minority groups live in terror of the next religious war. In trying to prevent this, much work needs to be done to help heal the wounds of the past.
FRRME is uniquely placed to undertake reconciliation work in the Middle East. With 14 years experience, we have the trust and respect of the people we are helping, as well as elsewhere in the region and internationally. According to Aid for Iraqis, FRRME is one of 17 agencies which have established “excellent aid provision” in northern Iraq.
By employing and treating people of all faiths at St George’s Clinic in Baghdad, we demonstrate our non-sectarian ideals every day. Christian and Muslim medical staff work side-by-side every day to deliver high quality medical care to people of all religious backgrounds. When a bomb exploded close to the clinic, the medical staff at St George’s ignored the risk of secondary explosions and rushed out to treat the injured, saving many lives. This united front sent a powerful and lasting message to a fractured and divided society.
Through our advocacy work and ‘Voices of Iraq’ project we are also working towards a safer, pluralist Iraq. Ultimately, our goal is to bring enemies together and show them that they have more in common than that which divides them.
FRRME continues to act as a vital bridge between Shia and Sunni, Muslim and Jew, East and West, Government and Opposition. This is the fruit of years of hard work – building networks and connections where none previously existed. Over time, these networks have grown incrementally, and now represent our most valuable asset in the region.