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  • » 08/19/2008, 00.00

    IRAQ

    In Kirkuk Christian and Muslim leaders pray for peace in the country



    In Iraqi Kurdistan Christian, Sunni, Shia and Kurdish leaders pray together in the Sunni al-Rashid Mosque, calling for an “end to violence.” There are signs of hope showing that a will to rebuild the country exists despite ongoing attacks and targeted murders.
    Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – In the last two days attacks by suicide bombers and car bombs have sown death and destruction among the civilian population and targeted government and other political leaders. But there are also signs of hope, people who do not want to give in to the logic of violence perpetrated by terrorists.

    Today at noon in the Sunni al-Rashid Mosque in Domez, Iraqi Kurdistan, more than 250 religious leaders, Sunnis, Shiites, Kurdish and Turkmen, as well as a ten-member Christian delegation led Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of  Kirkuk, held a joint prayer “to promote peace and end the violence” in the country.

    The initiative came from Imam Ali Iman, head of the local Sunni community, who called upon the leaders of the various faiths and ethnic groups in the region “to pray for peace and stability’ in Kirkuk and across Iraq.

    During the ceremony the spiritual leaders of the various communities prayed for the victims of last month’s attacks.

    This is a strong signal that reiterates a desire to work together for “the good” of the country and “isolate the terrorist cells that want to sow death and destruction.”

    In addition to prayers each leader address those present stressing the meaning of today’s initiative and the joint willingness to cooperate to ensure stability and security.

    Invited by the imam the first to speak was Mgr Louis Sako himself who began quoting from Psalm 133 which says “How good it is, how pleasant, where the people dwell as one!”

    The initiative underscores the importance of making a joint effort on behalf of peace whilst not forgetting the differences that each community of faithful and each ethnic group possesses, differences which can instead be a precious source for development and growth.

    “If we want to live in peace and freedom we must be able to leave the past behind us,” Monsignor Sako said; “turn the sad pages” that have been the cause of bloodshed in Iraq’s recent history; and “open together a new chapter” that brings prosperity.

    “We have had enough violence, death and destruction,” the archbishop of Kirkuk said. “God created us to live in peace and joy.”

    After his address a representative for Shia leader Muqtada al Sadr, the Sunni imam of the Al-Rashid Mosque, a Kurdish leader and a representative of the Arab community spoke.

    This morning in Dyala province the local governor, Raad Rasheed Mulla Jawad, and his secretary were murdered.

    In the afternoon in Ramadi, in western Iraq, a car bomb killed four police agents and a civilian.

    Also in Ramadi, but yesterday, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a police checkpoint killing five agents.

    Police sources report that six other agents as well as five civilians were seriously injured in the attack.

    The latter came a day after another violent incident left 15 people dead in a Sunni area of Baghdad. In this case the suicide bomber blew himself up near a police roadblock.

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    See also

    16/01/2007 IRAQ
    Iraq moving towards division, says bishop of Kirkuk
    Mgr Louis Sako voices his concerns over the growing split between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. A divided Iraq will not have peace but may confine Christians in their own ghetto.

    14/02/2005 IRAQ
    Sharia will not be basic law, says Bishop Sako
    The Bishop of Kirkuk tells AsiaNews that Sunnis will join the government because Shiites and Kurds cannot govern alone.

    08/08/2005 IRAQ
    Constitutional talks to begin homestretch
    The August 15 deadline is approaching fast before the final draft is ready.  Kurdish autonomy and state-religion relations still need ironing out.

    19/05/2005 IRAQ – SYRIA
    US complains about the Syrian connection in al-Qaeda's renewed campaign in Iraq


    06/04/2009 IRAQ
    Five Christians killed as Kirkuk archbishop questions US withdrawal
    Monsignor Sako warns that US troop pullout is likely to plunge the country in a “civil war.” Between 31 March and 4 April five Christians are murdered in Kirkuk, Baghdad and Mosul. The prelate calls on the faithful to pray during Holy Week so “that the blood of our martyrs may restore peace.”



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