Young Iraqi Christians, Muslims, and Yazidis are the seeds of dialogue in a Land broken by the Islamic State

6606442621494827991ERBIL: In order to overcome the murderous madness of the Islamic State, which has covered with blood a land already brutalised by years of wars and violence, it is necessary to start with “a plan of dialogue and outreach at the local level”, involving first of all children and young people, the new generations, “who will be tasked with building life together” beyond their respective religions.

Starting from such premises, Fr Samir Youssef, pastor of the diocese of Amadiya (Iraqi Kurdistan) who has long been on the frontline of the refugee emergency, is promoting a project to transform “young Muslims, Christians and Yazidis” into “seeds of dialogue ” to breathe new life into Mosul, the Nineveh plain, and Iraq as a whole.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the priest mentioned an initiative that is in its initial stage, but one that has already garnered “the enthusiastic participation” of some thirty of kids, aged 10 to 16, from various religious background. “We started with a group of about 30-35 kids,” Fr Samir said, “but we want to increase the numbers for the summer, involving young people from high school and university.”

The aim is to find youth “eager to talk, communicate, and bear witness” that living together is possible and that from this, a model can emerge applicable across the country, and beyond.

“We have already started to meet,” he added, “although getting the first results will take some time. At the moment, the first group, the base on which to start working, has been found. It includes a dozen Christians, eight Muslims and seven Yazidis. There are also Sabians and Turkmen.”

As parish priest in the diocese of Zakho and Amadiya (Kurdistan), Fr Samir is responsible for about 3,500 Christian, Muslim, and Yazidi refugee families who fled their homes and property in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain to escape Jihadis. Since the summer of 2014 and the start of the emergency, the clergyman has played a key role. Working with him and Iraqi bishops, AsiaNews has recently renewed its Adopt a Christian of Mosul campaign to provide refugees with kerosene, shoes, clothing, and school material for children.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HERALD (MALAYSIA)

Muslim Man Sends Powerful Message to Persecuted Christians

crosswoodtableas_siWhile stories of Islamic State terrorists destroying lives and cities dominates the headlines, there are a number of Muslims offering hope to their persecuted Christian neighbors.

One of those peaceful Muslims is Marwan, a man from Mosul who decided to build a cross for his Christian neighbors after ISIS pummeled their church to dust.

Jeremy Courtney from Preemptive Love Coalition, an organization that provides humanitarian aid to communities in Iraq, posted a video on Facebook explaining why Marwan did this.

“When Marwan came into this church, he couldn’t accept the fact that these other guys who claimed to be Muslims were rampaging through this place, destroying the signs and icons of his Christian friends, his Christian compatriots, his Christian neighbors. And so, our Muslim friend Marwan helps fashion this cross together,” Courtney says in the video.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CBN

Iraq’s Muslims celebrate Christmas in solidarity with Christians

baghdad-tree

A tall, glittering tree erected outside a shopping centre in Baghdad could be considered an incongruous display of Christmas festivity in mainly-Muslim Iraq. But the 7-metre-high tree at Sama Mall in the south east of the capital, adorned with tinsel, stars and bells, is one of a number of decorations put up by residents and business owners in solidarity with the country’s Christian minority.

 Muslim businessman Yassir Saad has spent around £19,000 on a huge artificial tree to help Iraqis “forget their anguish” over the war against Isis.

The 85-foot decoration is on display in a Baghdad theme park. Visitor Saba Ismael said it “represents love and peace”. “I wish all Iraqi Christians could return to Iraq and live normal and peaceful lives,” she said.

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FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT (UK)

How religious holidays are uniting Iraqi Muslims and Christians

Christians Ramadhan

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate in Iraq called on Christians to fast one day during the holy month of Ramadan. On June 17, Iraqi Christians fasted alongside the Muslim community. The patriarchate’s statement said, “For one day, [Christians] will show solidarity with the fasting Muslims; they will pray for peace and stability in Iraq and the region, as well as for the consolidation of the culture of brotherhood, love and coexistence.”

Father Maysar Bahnam of Mar Korkis Catholic Church in Baghdad told Al-Monitor, “Christians are organizing activities to reach out to Muslims. Our church organized on June 9 an iftar [meal served at sunset] for the fasting Muslims, as an annual tradition that promotes coexistence between Christians and Muslims.”

The official in charge of the church’s Social Committee, Issam Maskouni, told Al-Monitor, “Organizing an iftar for Muslims provides a meeting point for Muslims and Christians far from sectarian bickering and in an atmosphere free from the hate speech and divisive rhetoric prevailing in the political scene.”

For his part, Louis Raphael I Sako, the current Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, told Al-Monitor, “These initiatives are not new to the Chaldean Church and other churches of Iraq. Churches have always provided aid to all Iraqis without exception. They distributed food to refugees fleeing the oppression of the Islamic State [IS], and they did this on different occasions and in different camps. Churches provided medicines to charitable clinics, organized iftars for the fasting Muslims, and hosted and provided care for displaced university students to allow them to complete their academic year or graduate.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL MONITOR 

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KING: ISIS terrorists aren’t Muslims — they’re just evil men hell-bent on carnage and destruction

290220160857083500Maybe you missed it since “pray for Baghdad” didn’t trend on Twitter and Facebook didn’t give you the option of overlaying an Iraqi flag on your profile picture, but something truly horrific happened there Sunday morning. A suicide truck bomb tore through a busy shopping district in Baghdad. ISIS has already claimed the attack as their own.

The carnage it left behind was comparable to our Oklahoma City bombing, but worse. It tore through an entire block, ripped gaping holes in huge buildings, and killed at least 215 people — including dozens of women and young children. The death toll is expected to rise. It was the single deadliest attack in Iraq in nearly a decade. As you read this, people are still combing through the rubble hoping to find their loved ones alive.

This is not the terrorism Olympics, but it was deadlier than Orlando (49 dead), deadlier than Paris (130 dead), and even deadlier than Oklahoma City (168 dead). It was the deadliest terrorist attack in the world this year and one of the deadliest ever measured.

mideast-iraq-bombing

Did you know that Baghdad is the second largest city in the entire Arab world and that government officials now estimate its population has exceeded 9 million people — making it larger than New York City? I didn’t know that. Because most of what I know about Baghdad I learned from watching mainstream news in the aftermath of 9/11, I knew next to nothing about the city before I prepared to write this article.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 

Christians join Muslim Ramadan in symbolic act of solidarity in Iraq

iraqi-christiansThe Chaldean Patriarchate invited Iraqi Christians in the war-torn country to celebrate the Holy Ramadan with their fellow Muslim citizens as a symbolic gesture of solidarity.

Heeding the call of Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, Iraqi Christians joined Iraqi Muslims Friday, June 17 in celebrating the holy month of Ramadan by fasting and prayer.

“In this way we just wanted to propose a Christian gesture: as Christians, we are confident that fasting and prayer, also shared with others, can work miracles, while weapons and military interventions only kill,” Sako told Agenzia Fides.

Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan by dawn to dusk with fasting and intense prayer. They commemorate the time believed when Allah revealed the Quran to Prophet Muhammad.

The Christians also accompanied their symbolic gesture with acts of charity as they pray for peace and stability in a country that’s ravaged by Islamic State terrorists and produced a large number of internally displaced people.

“Today we will offer, through Caritas Iraq, a contribution of $50 thousand in favor of the refugees of Fallujah,” said Sako.

The patriarch added that they planned to “symbolically offer” Iftar to some Iraqi Muslims as they break the day’s fasting. He noted that although many Muslims expressed gratitude, some Christians abroad criticized their gesture.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN TIMES 

 

Iraqi Christians join Muslims in fight against ISIS

IRAQICHRISTIANBy Stoyan Zaimov

Close to a thousand Iraqi Christians who say they have been abandoned by their government have formed a militia to avenge ISIS taking their land and slaughtering their families. The Christians have said they will fight alongside their “Muslim brothers” who have also suffered at the hands of the terror group.

Rayan Al-Kildani of the Babylonian Brigades, the Christian militia group part of the Shiite-dominated militias organization known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, told NBC News that ISIS “displaced us from our houses, they took our money, killed our young men and women and they took our properties.

“By the will of God we will avenge what happened to our community,” Al-Kildani vowed, and said that the Christian fighters will help Muslims who are also standing up to ISIS.

“ISIS terrorists do not differentiate among Christians, Muslims, Sunnis and Shiites — they kill everyone,” he added. “We have to help our Muslim brothers liberate Iraq.”

ISIS has driven out hundreds of thousands of Christians from their ancient homes across Iraq and Syria, including almost 200,000 Assyrian Christians from the Nineveh plans, the NGO Reach Initiative said.

Iraqi Christians have said they feel abandoned by the central government, and argued that the treatment they are suffering now is a culmination of over a decade of violent persecution of Christians in Iraq.

“We don’t want to leave the country that we lived in all our lives, where we enjoyed life and our religion. But we need a secure place to live,” explained Batool Airyagoos, a refugee who fled Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in Nineveh.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ROCKFORD ADVOCATE