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» 04/26/2012
"Building bridges of peace", a project that unites Christians and Muslims in Kirkuk
by Joseph Mahmoud
The Chaldean archbishopric holds a reconciliation forum today. Some 50 political, religious and cultural leaders attend the event. Mgr Sako presents a seven-point proposal, signed by participants, as a "joint commitment" to dialogue. A committee is set to see to its implementation.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - The Chaldean Archbishopric of Kirkuk, northern Iraq, organised a reconciliation forum today on "Building bridges of peace", on the initiative of Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of the city. The meeting brought together Christian and Muslims leaders, altogether some 50 people, including politicians like the provincial governor, lawmakers, party chiefs and tribal sheiks; religious leaders from the Shia, Sunni and Christian communities; and representatives of the Kurdish, Arab, Turkmen and Assyrian-Chaldean communities.

The forum comes a few days after a series of attacks left a trail of blood and destruction in Kirkuk as well as the rest of the country. Despite the departure of US troops, the situation has not improved and peace and security remain as elusive as ever.

Today's meeting is "an opportunity for all parties" to sit around a table to talk "in a civilised manner", Church sources in Kirkuk said. This way they can try to solve problems and bridge divisions, thus "reducing tensions rather than make it worse with threats."

Among the various speeches and interventions, Mgr Sako presented a seven-point proposal that participants signed as a joint "commitment" to dialogue and peace. An ad hoc committee made up of individuals from various backgrounds will be set up to evaluate the application of its principles and directives.

In his address, Mgr Sako reiterated the principle of dialogue with Islam so that people can live together and overcome theological issues that today are unsolvable.

For Christians, this means adopting a language that can be "understood" by the Muslim community. At the same time, a "secular civil society" is necessary based on "shared Iraqi citizenship."

A number of plans are on the drawing board to achieve these goals. They include a kindergarten for 80 children (10 per cent Muslim) and an elementary school that should open in September.

As those behind these initiatives note, coexistence begins in infancy.

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See also
08/10/2010 IRAQ
Mgr. Sako’s Message for Ramadan in Kirkuk
08/29/2009 IRAQ
In Kirkuk Christian and Muslim leaders for dialogue and reconciliation
05/22/2009 IRAQ
Kirkuk: young Christian teacher is freed thanks to help of Muslims
05/16/2011 IRAQ
Kirkuk: young Christian abducted, tortured and beheaded
03/11/2008 IRAQ
Silence must not descend on Archbishop of Mosul

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