A Call for Peace, Reconciliation, and Action: Reflections from Egypt
Conditions in Iraq and the surrounding regions
There is a severe disintegration process taking place among the various ethnic groups and denominations and religions existing in Iraqi society. This process is an ongoing one that might not return to normal even after the war situation comes to an end. This disintegration process is accompanied by terrorist attacks, killing, destruction, and civilian horror. Not to mention that helpless civilians are sometimes pushed and used in the implementation of some of the terrorist attacks. We would like to refer to the two suicide bombings that took place in two Iraqi markets, where two mentally retarded women (Mongolians) were used in the operation to achieve objectives that one cannot classify as religious, racial, or political; and that are far beyond the understanding of two disadvantaged creatures. Such an incident put us all as Arabs in a very bad situation.
The result of all this is a general condition of instability, terror, and absence of peace that pushes a lot of citizens to leave their country. This also has an impact that is extended beyond the Iraqi boundaries to the surrounding Arab region. The disruption that took place among the various ethnic groups and denominations that used to be integrated in Iraq prior to the war has had an effect on the unity of the Arab region; as each ethnic group and denomination is trying to take the side of and defend their representatives in Iraq. This has resulted in more ethnic groups and denomination based centralization in the region contributing to maximum disruption and disunity among the Arab countries. Moreover, this situation is spreading a general sense of fear and terror in the whole region – that might still prevail even after the war is over; in addition to the terrorist attacks that are apt to prevail in the Arab region as a result of the spread of terrorists that are being trained in Iraq in all the Arab countries.
It is also worth noting that the current condition is imposing significant pressure on the Iraqi Government in its attempts to eliminate the negative war consequences of destruction, terrorism, etc. The Iraqi Government is facing a great challenge in trying to make the country pass the current situation of disorder.
Church Voice for Peace, Reconciliation, and Development in Iraq
In light of the above we are calling for the international groups, religious institutions (whether Christian or Muslim) and all concerned entities to support Iraq and protect it from being divided and fragmented. We are calling for the unity of Iraq and respect for the diversity of the Iraqi society that used to be a source of enrichment to the world. We also need to call for reconciliation and healing of Iraqi people that are subject to daily suffering and who need the support of the whole world. The Iraqi citizens need all the support to be able to reconstruct themselves to be able to live in peace and enjoy God’s gifts that are bestowed on the world. This can be achieved through the integrated work of all the groups, institutions, and individuals. We call upon all the concerned institutions to build relationships and networks with Iraqi institutions and build their capacities to help them reconstruct their country.
We believe that the Church – whether at the local or international level – has a big role in promoting peace and conflict resolution in Iraq through spreading love and respect of the human dignity of the Iraqi citizens. Moreover, partnerships should be built with the Iraqi churches together with institutions of other denominations (whether Sunni or Shiite) and concerned entities (governmental, civil, or private) that can identify the available opportunities for building the nation’s unity and peace. The Church must set the example of cooperation, group work and conflict resolution through calling for a united message for love and peace and managing disagreements; and emphasizing this through live programs in the core of the events.
The Church as well has a role in aiding in the provision of the basic needs of the disadvantaged categories – whether food, clothing, environment, and employment. It should contribute to building the people’s will to work and participate in rebuilding themselves.
The Church should continue to carry out its role despite all the difficulties and challenges. It should work on training individuals on effective confrontation and dialogue among the concerned entities in the framework of peacemaking and claiming justice.
Mr. Nabil S. Abadir is the General Director of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services, in Cairo, Egypt.