09/02/2009, 00.00
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Archbishop Louis Sako: Muslims want us to promote national reconciliation

Imam Shiites and Sunnis have appreciated the Archbishop of Kirkuk’s invitation to mark Ramadan, calling it a "gesture of respect." They ask Christians, by history and tradition, to be "promoters of dialogue" between the different souls of the country and issue a "call for the liberation of the kidnapped doctor." In Mosul a Christian businessman of 65 is kidnapped.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - Iraqi Christians must be the promoters of a ‘committee for dialogue and national reconciliation” among all the souls of the country. This is what Muslim leaders appealed for during dinner with the Archbishop of Kirkuk, held last August 29 by Msgr. Louis Sako on the occasion of Ramadan. Shia and Sunni leaders appreciated the invitation of the bishop, calling it "a gesture of respect" for the holy month and have launched a "call for the liberation of Christian doctor who was kidnapped on 18 August."

Archbishop Louis Sako gathered together 50 Muslim leaders in the residence of the  archdiocese to celebrate Ramadan. "Muslims welcomed the invitation - the prelate tells – they considered it a gesture of 'respect' for the holy month. Of 50 participants expected, 100 came, and it was a nice break with protocol”. The relationship between Christians and Muslims has changed over time.  “Now they no longer speak ill of Christians in the mosques - continues Msgr. Sako - and they no longer say 'us and them'. The time of separation and sectarian divisions is over", because now the grounds for conflict “are political and economic, not sectarian ".  

Over dinner the violence afflicting the country was discussed and Muslim leaders " launched an appeal for the release of a Christian doctor Samir Gorgias", in the hands of kidnappers for weeks. "Muslims and Christians – he says - condemn this kidnapping and all actions that are not for the good of the country". The kidnappings are motivated by economic greed, Christians are kidnapped for ransom. Two days ago in Mosul, criminals seized a Christian businessman of 65, of who there has been no further news.

The prelate gifted those present with a copy of his book, which describes the policy of "Dialogue between Christians and Muslims during the Abbasid”, who ruled the Islamic world from Baghdad between the eighth and the thirteenth century. He emphasizes that "all this patrimony serves dialogue, today as it did in the past”.  Shiite and Sunni Muslims recognize the “role of mediator played by the Church" throughout history, and its commitment to" peace and reconciliation". This is why Muslims – together - ask Christians to be the promoters of a committee for dialogue at a national level".  

Abbas Fadhil, Shia Imam of Kirkuk, in a speech to Iraqi television expressed his "gratitude for this gesture of friendship." "This initiative of the Catholic cathedral – said the Muslim leader - is distinct and we greatly appreciate it because it comes at a sensitive and critical time”. He adds that "we must renew our message to awaken the conscience of the Iraqi people” and to strengthen "harmonious coexistence between all members of the Iraqi people" to protect national unity.

Alkhalidi Ali, Sunni imam, stressed that the dinner constitutes a "meal of charity, is the meal of Jesus son of Mary." The Muslim leader recognizes the importance of "dialogue" and reiterates the call to "build our city, Kirkuk, and the whole country on a sound foundation, respecting each others rights". "I am very grateful for this pioneering gesture of our brothers - concludes the imam - who are the source of this country. Enough violence, we want to live in peace as brothers". (DS) 

Photo: Ankawa.com

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