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Pope Francis visits to Kurdistan and Irag

A place to talk about domestic politics in Middle East (Iran, Iraq , Turkey, Syria) Also includes topics about Assyrian, Armenian, Chaldean .

Pope Francis visits to Kurdistan and Irag

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Mar 06, 2021 7:00 pm

Pope Francis meets Sistani
visits Abraham birthplace


In Ur, the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, the common patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Pope Francis met with representatives of multiple religions and appealed to their common history, calling for fraternity and dedication to helping society’s most vulnerable

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“There will be no peace, as long as our alliances are against others,” said the pope to the gathering of Christians, Muslims, Yazidis, Sabeans, and other Iraqi faiths.

Ur, in Iraq’s Nasiriyah province, is one of the world’s oldest cities. The Bible describes God calling Abraham to leave Ur and settle the land of Canaan. “Brothers and sisters of different religions, here we find ourselves at home,” Pope Francis said.

“From this place, where faith was born, from the land of our father Abraham, let us affirm that God is merciful and that the greatest blasphemy is to profane his name by hating our brothers and sisters. Hostility, extremism and violence are not born of a religious heart: they are betrayals of religion.”

Nasiriyah has seen some of the bloodiest anti-government protests since 2019 when demonstrators took to the streets demanding improved government services and an end to corruption. A week before the pope’s visit, ten people were killed in Nasiriyah when security forces opened fire on protests.

In November 2003, at least 28 people, including 19 Italians, were killed in Nasiriyah in a bombing of an Italian complex.

The interfaith event began with reading passages from the Bible and Quran about Abraham and Ur and the pope heard personal testimonies from representatives of different faiths.

Two boys, Daoud and Hassan, a Christian and a Muslim, from Basra recounted how they have grown up together and established a small business. “Though we are not of the same religion, our story shows that we can work together and we can be friends… We don’t want war and violence and hatred. We would like the people of our country to work together and be friends,” said Hassan.

The pope commended the friendship of the two boys as a model of a way to build the future.

“It is up to us, today’s humanity, especially those of us, believers in religion, to turn instruments of hatred into instruments of peace,” said Pope Francis. “It is up to us to appeal firmly to the leaders of nations to make increasing proliferation of arms give way to the distribution of food for all. It is up to us to silence mutual accusations, in order to make heard the cry of the oppressed and those who are discarded in our world. All too many people lack food, medicine, education, rights, and dignity. It is up to us to shed light on the shady maneuvers that revolve around money.”

Pope Francis made special mention of the Yazidi community, “which has mourned the deaths of many men and witnessed thousands of women, girls, and children kidnapped, sold as slaves, subjected to physical violence and forced conversions.”

He praised the fraternity of Muslim and Christians in Mosul, working together to rebuild mosques and churches damaged in the war against the Islamic State group (ISIS).

Pope Francis also mentioned Syria, appealing for peace in the neighbouring war-torn country.

The pope urged people to work together and help each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We need each other. The pandemic has made us realize that no one is saved alone,” he said.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/06032021
Last edited by Anthea on Mon Mar 08, 2021 4:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Pope Francis visits to Kurdistan and Irag

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Re: Pope Francis visits Abraham's birthplace

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Mar 08, 2021 4:44 am

Thousands attend Pope
stadium Mass in Irbil


Pope Francis has visited parts of northern Iraq that were held by Islamic State (ISIS) militants on the third day of his historic trip to the country

Christians were among those targeted by ISIS when they seized the region in 2014, carrying out human rights abuses.

The Pope prayed among ruined churches in Mosul, the former ISIS stronghold, before meeting Christians in Qaraqosh.

Celebrating Mass at a stadium in Irbil, the last big set piece of his visit, he said Iraq would remain in his heart.

Thousands of people attended the service despite Covid concerns.

Iraq, which has seen more than 13,500 deaths with Covid-19 and more than 726,000 cases, has recorded a sharp rise in infections over the past month.

The 84-year-old leader of the Catholic Church and his entourage have all been vaccinated, but Iraq only received its first batch of doses last week.

The four-day trip, which began on Friday, is the pontiff's first international excursion since the start of the pandemic more than a year ago, and the first ever papal visit to the country.

Where did the Pope go on Sunday?

In Mosul he visited Church Square to pray for the victims of the war with the Islamic State group, which left thousands of civilians dead.

Surrounded by the tottering ruins of the square's four churches, he said the exodus of Christians from Iraq and the broader Middle East had done "incalculable harm not just to the individuals and communities concerned but also to the society they leave behind".

Image

People pray on Church Square in Mosul, Iraq, 7 March

Referring to the historic region of Mesopotamia, which covered much of modern Iraq including Mosul, Pope Francis said: "How cruel it is that this country, the cradle of civilisation, should have been afflicted by so barbarous a blow, with ancient places of worship destroyed and many thousands of people - Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and others - forcibly displaced or killed.

"Today, however, we reaffirm our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than hatred, that peace more powerful than war."

ISIS desecrated Christian places of worship, beheading religious statues and planting booby-trap bombs. Tens of thousands of Christians fled ISIS control while those who remained faced having their property stolen and choosing between paying a tax, converting to Islam, leaving or facing death.

In the nearby town of Qaraqosh, the Pope met Christians in the ancient Church of the Immaculate Conception, which was once torched by ISIS and has now been restored.

The Pope prayed at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh

Image

"I can't describe my happiness, it's a historic event that won't be repeated," said Yosra Mubarak, 33, before the Pope's visit. She was three months pregnant when she left her home seven years ago with her husband and son, fleeing the violence.

"It was a very difficult journey, we fled with only the clothes we're wearing... There was nothing left [when we returned], but our only dream was to come back and here we are and the Pope is coming," she told Reuters news agency.

The Roman Catholic leader arrived by motorcade at the stadium in Irbil on Sunday afternoon, switching to a Popemobile to the delight of those waiting.

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"In my time among you, I have heard voices of sorrow and loss, but also voices of hope and consolation," he told those attending.

"Now the time draws near for my return to Rome. Yet Iraq will always remain with me, in my heart."

What message is the Pope delivering?

Since arriving in Baghdad on Friday, Pope Francis has called for an end to violence and extremism and said that Iraq's dwindling Christian community should have a more prominent role as citizens with full rights, freedoms and responsibilities.

On Saturday, in a highly symbolic meeting with the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf, the Pope echoed this message, saying that Christians should be able to live in peace and security like all other Iraqis.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani with Pope Francis on Saturdayimage copyrightEPA
image captionGrand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani with Pope Francis on Saturday

Audiences with the reclusive 90-year-old spiritual leader of millions of Shia Muslims are rare, but he received the Pope for around 50 minutes, the pair talking without face masks.

The Pope then visited the site of the ancient city of Ur, believed to be the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, who is revered in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
media captionPope: 'We cannot be silent when terrorism abuses religion'

Iraq has been wracked by religious and sectarian violence, both against minorities and between Shia and Sunni Muslims too.

How vulnerable are Iraq's Christians?

People in what is now Iraq embraced Christianity in the 1st Century AD, making Christians one of the country's oldest religious communities.

About two-thirds of Iraqi Christians are Chaldean Catholics, whose Eastern-rite Church retains its own liturgy and traditions but recognises the authority of the pope in Rome.

Numbers overall have plummeted over the last two decades from 1.4 million to about 250,000, less than 1% of the country's population.

Most of those who remain live in the Nineveh Plain and Kurdistan Region in the north of the country.

Many Christians have fled abroad to escape the violence that has plagued the country since the US-led invasion in 2003 that ousted Saddam Hussein.

A US state department report on religious freedom in Iraq in 2019 found that Christians, as well as Sunni Muslims, complained of harassment at checkpoints by Shia security forces and some discrimination in education.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-56309779
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Re: Pope Francis visits to Kurdistan and Irag

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Mar 11, 2021 4:19 am

Pope Francis thanks Kurds

Pope Francis has thanked the Kurdish people for their "warm welcome" following his historic trip to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region over the weekend

Image

"A fraternal message that came from Erbil, the city where I was received by the President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq @IKRPresident, the Prime Minister, the authorities and the people. Once again, I thank the Kurdish people for their warm welcome," his Arabic-language account tweeted on Wednesday.

As part of the first-ever papal visit to Iraq, Pope Francis met with President Barzani and other senior Kurdish officials on Sunday morning, when he arrived at Erbil's airport.

After visits to Qaraqosh and Mosul later that morning, the pope returned to the Kurdistan Region, driving through the predominantly Christian suburb of Ainkawa en route to Erbil's Franso Hariri Stadium.

The pope received a rapturous welcome at the stadium, where he held mass for 10,000 people and extended a "heartfelt welcome to the Kurdish people."

On Wednesday, the pontiff also addressed Christians who have left Iraq, calling on them to "keep the faith" and return home "if you can."

The Kurdistan Region hosts many Iraqi Christians who fled their homes when the Islamic State (ISIS) took control of Mosul and the Nineveh Plains in the summer of 2014. Many more have left Iraq altogether, with the number of Christians in Iraq currently estimated at 300,000, down from 1.5 million before 2003, according to Erbil's Chaldean Archbishop Warda.

Erbil and Mosul are “symbols of hope,” the White House Coordinator for Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk tweeted on Wednesday with footage of the pope’s arrival at the mass in Erbil.

“Inspired by these joyous scenes of @Pontifex in Erbil, where so many from all faiths found life-saving refuge from ISIS over the summer of 2014.”

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/10032021
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