ASIA/IRAQ - Good relations among religious communities, humanitarian aid from churches and mosques without discrimination: action of Interreligious Council in for peace

Saturday, 24 April 2004

Baghdad (Fides Service) - That the authentic role of religion is to contribute to dialogue, reconciliation and peace has been affirmed more than once by John Paul II. Despite difficulties and the presence of some “preachers of hatred” in Iraqi mosques testimony of how the religious communities intend to work to build good relations in the new Iraq was the creation of “Iraq Interreligious Council for Peace”, in August 2003 which for about a year has promoted meetings and activities to underline the authentic role of religion in the Iraqi scenario.
Organised by the “World Conference of Religions for Peace”, the Council comprises Iraqi leaders of Sunni and Shiite Muslims and various Christian denominations, some are members of the Iraqi transition government .
The Council immediately spoke out against religious violence and action by sectarian groups underlining instead that the task of the different faith communities is to help the people of Iraq who live problems of daily survival. The Council stated that contribution of the religions and the development of good relations among the different religious communities is fundamental for build a new Iraq of peace, democracy and tolerance.
In agreement with the Council humanitarian aid has been promoted through mosques and churches offering food, water and medicines, according to need, without religious discrimination. “In our mosques we offen distribute food which is supplied by Christian organisations. Together we survive”, said Ali Houssein al Jabbouri at Shakir al-Adoud in Baghdad.
A recent episode was a concrete example of interreligious solidarity: Christians wanted to help the people of the besieged Sunni Muslim city of Falluja, surrounded by American troops to bring out violent groups of extremists. The different religions in Baghdad collected food aid and medicine and delivered them to Falluja. The delegation was led by Chaldean Catholic Bishop Sholomon Warduni, a Shiite imam and Sunni religious leader offering an example of shared concrete activity of solidarity. The people of the city were very happy not to be left abandoned .
In fact many observers say that religious communities, because of the capillary organisation are irreplaceable for help a general improvement of Iraqi society. Among the finalities of the Interreligious Council:
- meet the need of the different religious communities and work immediately ;
- sustain traditions of religious tolerance and freedom in Iraq;
- sustain Iraqi religious leaders in their efforts to build a multi-religious Iraq; These finalities will be pursued in collaboration with the World Conference of Religions for Peace which sustains the activity of the Iraqi Council .
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 24/4/2004 lines 46 words 487)