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An article from “Y-News – Baghdad”

July 21, 2014:

I am Christian-A message from Iraqi Muslims against violence

In the al-Ghadeer region east of Baghdad, dozens of Muslim civilian activists gathered at Saint George’s Church in solidarity with Iraqi Christians. These Christians have been forcibly displaced by ISIS militants acting in the name of a so-called Caliphate State. Entering the church on Sunday, one could not differentiate between Christians and Muslims.  Everybody gathered focused only on speaking of peace.

The atmosphere in the church sent a message to the world saying that there is no difference between Christians and Muslims in this country: Iraq belongs to us; there is no place for terrorism in it. Christians and Muslims stood together, the former reciting verses from the Bible while the latter recited Surat Al-Fatihah from the Quran. The Bible and the Quran were wrapped with the Iraqi flag, the Iraqi Flag was mediating the audience, who stood in the courtyard of the church. Attendees’ faces mixed together, reflecting the unity of Iraq. The Christians at the Church welcomed their supporters with smiles for their solidarity.  Civic activists placed a banner at the entrance of the church, reading “No for displacement any Iraqi, I am Iraqi…I am Christian.

Mr. Yousif Al-Tamimi, organizer of this solidarity activity with the Christians, said to “Y-News”: “This solidarity demonstration expresses the discontent of Iraqis regarding the forced displacement faced by the Christians in the northern city of Mosul. We are a group of civic activists who insist on our Iraqi citizenship and nothing else. We have left all other affiliations behind us.”

 

He added that “the suffering that the Christians are facing in Mosul embodies the ugliest pictures of violations against humanity.  The aim of ISIS is to return back the situation in Iraq to the days of ancient tribal judgments.”

When he gave his speech during Sunday mass, the Patriarch of the St. George’s Church expressed his gratitude towards the civil activists for their support, and said: “Just as you raised the banner that said ‘I am an Iraqi…  I am Christian,’ so will I say ‘I am an Iraqi…I am Muslim.’”

He also said that “Iraq is undergoing a dangerous time now…where some entities are trying to disturb the unity of our society.  And those who are displacing the Christians now do not represent Islam at all. True Islam is what you have come with.  It is when you expressed your rejection for any human rights violation that may affect any Iraqi, where Islam is a religion of love and peace.”

The Patriarch addressed the youth civilian activists who attended the church, saying, “You are the hope of Iraq, you will build this country, your message is a humanitarian one, devoid of any affiliations, where Iraq have gathered us all together.  I thank you for your support, which will remain known through history.”

This was followed by a statement from the civil activists’ representatives, in which he condemned the forced displacements against the Christians in Mosul, while indicating that the government must take responsibility for protecting the Christians. Finally, he described the role of civil society organizations as resisting what the suffering of the Christians.

–Mustafa Saadoun

Translation by Iraq Foundation staff

 

Additional Reading:

Muslims show solidarity with Iraqi Christians in Baghdad rally

Concern and Support for Iraqi Christians Forced to Flee Mosul

Iraqi’s Waterless Christians: The Campaign to Expel a Religion

 

The expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) in the past month has increased the challenges faced by communities in Ninawa, Salaheddin, Anbar, and Diyala provinces. With the continued and spreading violence, the need for aid and protection is more urgent than ever before.  The conditions of families displaced by this violence are appalling, and the deaths of children from heat and lack of water and food have been widely reported by international organizations.

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This violence has caused massive waves of internal migration and displacement, particularly from the Ninawa and Salah Al-Din provinces. Tens of thousands of the men, women and children who have been forced to flee their homes have headed to Dohuk and Erbil while others remain displaced in their own provinces and elsewhere in Iraq.

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  • 200,000  have fled from Ninawa to Dohuk and are in need of clean water, food, household goods, sanitation and hygiene and shelter.
  • At least 100,000  have fled to Erbil, including 7,000 Christians from Hamdaniya in Ninawa. The majority are living in the Ainkawa neighborhood with large concentrations in camps. Pregnant women (estimated at 60,000), new mothers and their babies  are particularly vulnerable groups in Erbil.
  • In the Ninawa Plain, the situation is particularly difficult in Sinjar, where 54,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have arrived from nearby Tel Afar. The remoteness of the area has presented a particular challenge for assistance. Children especially are  at risk in Sinjar and in need of oral rehydration salts and anti-diarrheal medication. Ninawa Plain is home to many of Iraq’s ethnic and religious minorities, who are  at risk during this crisis.
  • Over 16,000 IDPs are living in Kirkuk. Field reports have indicated an urgent need for children’s supplies, including nutritional supplements and milk as well as supplies for pregnant women, sick IDPs and older IDPs.

The Iraq Foundation is working closely with local humanitarian organizations with which we have established long-term relations to provide essential needs to IDPs through a fundraising campaign. To launch this initiative, IF has donated $5,000, and we hope you will generously support this effort. Funds donated will be used to respond to the priority needs of IDPs including: provision of potable water, food and household supplies as well as special health and medical provisions for particularly vulnerable groups, including the elderly, young children, pregnant women and new mothers and their babies.

Please make donations through the Iraq Foundation’s click and pledge accountor using our main website and clicking “Donate” in the top right corner. Please indicate that your donation is for Iraqi IDPs under the “Comments on your donation” box.

Your contribution to the Iraq Foundation may be tax deductible under section 501(C)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Please consult your tax adviser. The Iraq Foundation’s tax identification number is available on the click and pledge page.

Best wishes from the Iraq Foundation for Ramadan Mubarak.

It is with the deepest regret that the Iraq Foundation mourns the death of Ms. Omaia Al Jabara, head of the Arab and Iraqi Women’s Organization in Salah Al-Din. Ms. Jabara served as the partner of the Iraq Foundation on several projects. She was a lawyer and advisor to the governor of the province. She was died with courage, loyalty and love for her country.

The staff of the Iraq Foundation greets this news with the deepest regret and sorrow. We have lost a partner and woman distinguished for her practice of freedom and democracy. We express our utmost condolences to those martyred, to the province of Salah Al-Din, legal jurists and civil society for this great loss.

We condemn violence in Iraq as it prevents the practice of democracy, a functioning civil society and violates human rights.

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتًا بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ. فَرِحِينَ بِمَا آَتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ وَيَسْتَبْشِرُونَ بِالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَلْحَقُوا بِهِمْ مِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ أَلَّا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ (آل عمران 170،196

بمزيد من الاسف والاسى ينعى المعهد العراقي الشيخة امية الجبارة ، الفقيدة هي رئيسة منظمة المرأة العراقية والعربية في صلاح الدين ، وهي شريكة للمعهد العراقي في اكثر من مشروع ، بالاضافة لكونها محامية ومستشارة لمحافظ صلاح الدين ووجه مشرف من وجوه المحافظة ومشهود لها بالشجاعة والوفاء وحب الوطن.

واذ يعرب المعهد العراقي عن بالغ حزنه واسفه لفقدان شريك نسوي مميز على درب الحرية والديمقراطية، يتقدم بخالص عزائه لذوي الشهيدة ولمحافظة صلاح الدين والحقوقيين والمجتمع المدني العراقي بهذا المصاب الجلل، سائلين المولى عز وجل ان يتغمد الشهيدة برحمته الواسعة ويلهم ذويها الصبر والسلوان.

الرحمة والخلود لشهداء العراق الأبرار والخزي والعار لكل من يريد السوء بأرض العراق وشعبه

In the recent elections, Iraqi women won 22 seats in the Council of Representatives outside the quota system. This figure is indicative of the growing leadership of women in Iraq and increasing confidence of the electorate in women candidates!

Iraqi novelist, Ahmed Saadawi, won the Literary Booker Prize for his novel, “Frankenstein in Baghdad.”

Read the Arabic article, here.

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In 2009, the 17-year-old Iraqi pianist Zuhal Sultan from Baghdad realized a dream to unite the youth of her country. Her vision involved bringing together young Kurds and Arabs by offering a program of peace through music.  Thus, the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq was born.

Every year, the musicians audition via YouTube and 48 musicians between the ages of 18 and 29 are selected. They overcome ethnic, religious, language and gender barriers, to form this unique and vibrant orchestra.

Despite many hurdles, every year the young musicians go abroad to attend an intensive, three-week summer camp where they receive private and group coaching, perform for local community groups and receive standing ovations in sold-out concerts. Since 2009 these inspiring young people have successfully performed in Iraq, at Beethovenfest in Bonn, Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and this year, the Grand Theatre in Aix-en-Provence.  Subsequently they return to Iraq with new hope and skills to rebuild their country’s musical culture creating their own ensembles and passing their newly developed skills onto others.

In 2014 they hope to attend another intensive summer program at the Aaron Copland School of Music in Queens, New York, with the newly formed National Youth Orchestra of the USA. Concerts are also planned for Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

The National Youth Orchestra of Iraq is asking for your support. As the only Iraqi group spreading the message of tolerance, respect and reconciliation they need your help to continue empowering these creative young peoples’ vision of peace through music.

Contributions may be made to the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq through the Friends of the British Council here.

Or write a check made out to the Friends of the British Council/National Youth Orchestra of Iraq, and post to:

Friends of the British Council

1025 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 1000

Washington, DC  20036

From November 2-5 2011, IF held a four-day National Meeting in the Erbil province for the 15 Integrity Monitoring Groups (IMGs) established as part of the Provincial Accountability and Governance Project (PAG). A total of 90 participants from across Iraq attended the National Meeting, including officials from the Commission of Integrity, IMG members, provincial officials, and IF staff.  The goal of the National Meeting was to provide participants with a networking opportunity and spur the creation of a formal national network to advocate for good governance and fight corruption at the national level based on a unified, national Agenda for Change.  Over the last two years, IMGs have created and implemented Agendas for Change at the provincial level.  Based on these groups’ individual experiences, participants have agreed on a draft version of a National Agenda for Change during the National Meeting.  In addition to this success, a national network has emerged from the meeting and is currently in the process of registering with the Iraqi Council of Ministers as a legal Iraqi NGO.

Participants also received extensive training on networking and the use and maintanance of the newly created PAG Website during this meeting.

Selected photos from the event:



The Baghdad town-hall meeting was held in Al-Zafarania Youth Forum on May 15, 2011. Tribal leaders, government officials, NGO members and people from different sectors of the Iraqi society attended the meeting, total of 79 participants. Among the dignitaries who attend the meeting and responded to the inquires and concerns of the general public were, Ms. Basma Abdul Ammir, a Baghdad Provincial Council Member and Shaik Mohamed Al-Kadiry, Chief of Al-Zafarania  Support Council. The meeting was covered by the following media channels: Al-Ahad satellite TV channel, Al-Rusheed TV Channel, Al-Rai Newspaper, Al-Taaki Newspaper. 

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Al-Manara Network (Wasit Province, October 22, 2010)

http://www.almannarah.com/Mobile/NewsDetails.aspx?CatID=6&NewsID=20400

Wasit news network  (Wasit province, October 21, 2010)

http://www.wasitpress.net/news.php?action=view&id=1310

Al-Nasiria electronic newspapers (Thi-Qar province, October 27, 2010)

http://nasiriaelc.com/index.php?act=artc&id=4258

Nasiria news network (thi-Qar province, October 28, 2010) 

http://www.nasiriyah.org/nar/ifm.php?recordID=16130

Al-Shabiya electronic newspaper (Th-Qar province, October 28, 2010)

http://www.nasiriyahnews.com/news.php?action=view&id=725