ASIA/IRAQ - “Iraqis of all the different religious communities are a united people. It is a mistake to strike mosques” says Prof. Justo Lacunza, Rector of the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies in Rome

Saturday, 24 April 2004

Vatican City (Fides) - “The common denominator which today unites all Iraqi believers whether Shiite or Sunni Muslims, Christians or Kurds, is a strong nationalist sentiment. Iraqis, liberated from Saddam Hussein, today want dignity and legitimate rights of sovereignty”. Prof. Justo Lacunza Balda, Rector of the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies in Rome explained to Fides. “The problem is complex but the frame for coexistence has been outlined with the new Constitution which does not recognise Islamic law as source of inspiration for law. This is a guarantee but it must be filled with contents”.
Prof. Lacunza said “the situation is complex because Iraq is at the centre of a strategically important area, it has borders with states of different political, cultural and religious character, it is at the heart of a large area of political-religious intensity by which it is affected and influenced”.
Today the political and religious forces in Iraq, Prof. Lacunza said “enter the field to build a political space for the future Iraq. The insurgence of extremist groups can be explained with the generalised state of war registered today in Iraq: those who a year ago took the path of war must today face the consequences of that decision, which provoked more violence, hatred and revenge. The present condition is a consequence of a lack of dialogue and the unilateral option for violence. The war in Iraq pulled in terrorist actions from outside the country and complicated an already difficult situation”.
Prof. Lacunza concludes speaking to Fides: “Religious have a very difficult and delicate role today: on the one hand they must respond to the immediate pressing needs of the Iraqi people, impoverished families, people who have nothing; on the other they have a function of important responsibility to outline the future and lay the grounds for a climate of good relations with civil, military authorities and among the different religious communities. Shelling mosques is a serious and irresponsible mistake because of its symbolic value and its power to unleash anti-west hatred in a people who feel threatened in their identity”.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 24/4/2004 lines 39 words 420)