24 May 2017
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas

  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  • > South East Asia
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia

  • » 05/12/2017, 14.35


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

    Fr Samir Youssef talks about a plan for outreach and exchange to rebuild a social fabric broken by the Jihadi madness. Weekly meetings, summer camps, films and exchanges are dedicated to interfaith dialogue. Pope Francis is a model of teaching known and appreciated by Muslim and Yazidi families.

    Erbil (AsiaNews) – 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.

    To start with, the group has already met twice to lay the foundations for future work, which will continue through the summer. "With this experience, the group can become the salt and the light of this land, and involve the whole population, talking first of all at home, explaining issues and arguments at meetings. This way they can make other religions known to their families, creating a common basis for dialogue. Often, great things stem from small ones."

    The pastor wants to promote many ideas and plans at these meetings: from the stories of "special" children who lived under the Islamic State (IS) and those who lost a father or a mother to the jihadists, to summer camps open to young people of all faiths to develop even greater outreach and exchange.

    "We would also like to screen films during the meetings centred on God, religions, and spirituality,” Fr Samir said. “The first one could be Jim Carrey's Bruce Almighty, in which the protagonist thinks he is replacing God by solving everything, but then discovers his limits and the need for patience to get lasting results."

    With the fruit of the work of this first group of young people, which could be expanded, we can "create a website that presents the meetings, trips, and stories." Unlike other social media that too often espouse hate and division, such a page could be a "virtual place for outreach and exchange, a testimony to living together."

    "It is necessary to start with this country’s new generations, a land crossed by four great rivers: the Tigris, the Euphrates, petroleum and great religions. Such a flow of power and life can bring peace to the world from a land that has always been a beacon of civilisation since ancient times."

    For Fr Samir, to achieve such goals "starting from my parish", it is necessary to look "to the testimony and teachings of Pope Francis, starting from his last apostolic journey to Egypt. The visit has been followed closely, bearing witness to the path of dialogue and outreach.”

    “For me, Francis is a great teacher. He is increasingly appreciated and followed by Muslim and Yazidi families when they come to see me. Although they are not Christians, they ask me to talk to them about the pontiff’s latest speeches and stories." (DS)

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version

    See also

    08/06/2011 BANGLADESH
    Bangladeshi Premier to keep Islam as state religion
    Sheikh Hasina wants to keep the 2007 amendment to the original secular constitution, deemed illegal by the Supreme Court. The Islamic parties most concerned about a return to the Charter of 1972, which bans parties based on religion.

    02/07/2015 EGYPT
    For Catholic Church, the Egyptian people is united in the fight against Jihadist terrorism
    For Fr Rafic Greiche, “Rather than fear, what dominates is a feeling of anger” over the state prosecutor’s assassination and the Sinai attack. At least 100 people die in the latter. For the spokesman of the Catholic Church, the prosecutor's death was obviously caused by police letting their guard down. For him external forces are trying to bring "instability" to the country.

    29/09/2006 VATICAN
    Cardinal Bertone meets diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See
    The newly-appointed Secretary of State calls on diplomats to work together to defend human dignity, religious freedom and peace.

    10/12/2009 INDIA
    Telangana, a new Indian state, is given go ahead
    It comprises 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh. The decision arrived at yesterday at midnight, while the leader KC Rao, champion of the cause, lay dying. Telangana Irredentism has lasted 50 years. Telangana is the poorest area. Concerns about possible divisions of other states of Indian Union.

    15/05/2008 PALESTINE - ISRAEL
    Christian ex-minister: It is time for the Palestinians to have their own state
    Joudeh Mourqos speaks on the 60th anniversary of the "catastrophe". The only Christian minister in the government headed by Hamas in 2006 emphasises the urgency of passing from words to actions, and of bringing about peace: Israel cannot negotiate and then maintain its checkpoints.

    Editor's choices

    Pope: together with the faithful in China on 24 May to celebrate Our Lady of Sheshan

    During the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis speaks about the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, instituted by Benedict XVI. Chinese Catholics must make a “personal contribution to communion among believers and to harmony in the whole society." AsiaNews Symposium on the Church in China is set for this week. Francis appeals for peace in the Central African Republic, and for loving “one another following the example of the Lord”. For him, “Sometimes conflicts, pride, envy, and divisions leave a blotch on the beautiful face of the Church.” Five new cardinals will be named, including a bishop from Laos.

    May 24, 2017: 'China, the Cross is Red', AsiaNews Symposium

    Bernardo Cervellera

    The event will be held to mark the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. A title with many meanings: the Cross is red from the blood of the martyrs; From attempts to suffocate the faith with state control; Bceause of the contribution of hope that Christianity gives to a population tired of materialism and consumerism that is seeking new moral criteria. The theme is also about the great and unexpected religious rebirth in the country. Guests to include: Card. Pietro Parolin, Msgr. Savio Hon, the sociologist of religions Richard Madsen, the testimonies of Chinese priests and laity.


    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.


    News feed

    Canale RSScanale RSS 

    Add to Google


    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®