10/01/2020, 12.34
IRAQ
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Iraq celebrates Baghdad's churches with dedicated postage stamps

A one-of-a-kind print series will feature the capital’s most important Christian places of worship, from drawing by the artist Saad Ghazi. A first set of 4,000 stamps has been printed and distributed to post offices. This initiative is part of a project to highlight Iraq’s Christian cultural heritage. For Bishop Warduni, this is “a positive gesture, a sign of good will.”

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – For the first time, Iraqi Post has decided to celebrate the churches of Baghdad with postage stamps that present the most important Christian places of worship in the capital.

This unique gesture consists of a series of eight different stamps drawn by artist Saad Ghazi, featuring the churches of seven different Christian denominations, all in colour, 3x4 centimetres.

Issued on 29 September, the first set of 4,000 stamps were produced at the printing house in Baghdad of the Iraqi Telecommunications and Post Company telecommunications, which owns and operates Iraqi Post.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad Shlemon Audish Warduni, right-hand man of the Chaldean patriarch Louis Sako, said he was happy about the postal service’s decision, especially since it comes at a critical time in the country’s history, marked by violence and the SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) emergency.

“Of course, we don’t have the reality we want but news like this, about stamps, is still a positive gesture, a sign of good will,” he explained. "This is one way [for the authorities] to gain the respect of the people, of Christians, but the situation on the ground remains difficult because of COVID-19 and the attacks that continue, such as the one that took place overnight.”

The prelate's last reference is to a series of rockets that landed near Erbil international airport, Iraqi Kurdistan, believed to have targeted the US base in charge of Western operations against the Islamic State.

The new postage stamp is part of a set of initiatives recently adopted by the Iraqi government and international organisations to preserve Iraq’s Christian historical and cultural heritage and ensure the survival of the Christian community after years of mass exodus due to violence.

Recent examples of this include the awarding the 2020 Sakharov Prize to Archbishop Michaeel Najeeb Moussa of Mosul, and the renewed unity between the Chaldean patriarchate and the Iraqi government in the fight against corruption and sectarian violence.

As part of plans to rebuild Iraq’s artistic, historical and cultural heritage, UNESCO recently announced plans to restore the historic church of Al-Tahira in Mosul, northern Iraq’s largest city, which was a stronghold of the Islamic State (IS) for years.

When jihadis ruled the city, they almost completely devastated the building. Now the restoration project, which includes rebuilding the external and internal walls, seems to have started thanks also to the financial support of the United Arab Emirates.

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