Iraqi Religious Leaders Meet on "Together Before God for a Word of Truth to Eradicate Fanatical Speech in the Name of Religion”
Thursday, 1st of March 2018, Baghdad
His Beatitude, the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, invited a well-known Iraqi religious leaders of Muslims (Shi’a and Sunni) and Christians, as well as representatives of Sabeans, Yazidis and the main three endowment bureau for a meeting on Thursday the 1st of March 2018, at 10:00 am, at the St. Joseph Chaldean Church / Karrada.
The theme of the meeting was "Together Before God for a Word of Truth to Eradicate Fanatical Speech in the Name of Religion" The participants discussed the points raised by His Beatitude, freely and responsibly in a friendly atmosphere and shared a lunch afterward.
The meeting was attended by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martín; the President of the Iraqi Sunni Endowment, Dr. Abdul latif Al-Hemyem;
the Consultant of the Iraqi Shi’a Endowment, Dr. Farhan Al-Saedy; President of Christian, Yazidi and Sabeans Mandaean Endowment, Mr. Raad Kachachi; Head of Sabeans, Mr. Sattar Jabbar Al-Helo; Representative of Yazidies, Mr. Sherwa Moaweya; Secretary General of Al-Khoei Foundation, Sayyed Jawad Al-Khoei; representative from Sunni Fiqh Convention, Sheikh Abdulwahab Al Samerraey; President of Masarat Organization and civil activist, Dr. Saad Salloum; In addition to selected group of Muslim and Christian religious leaders.
HB Patriarch Sako commenced the meeting by the following speech
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests and Friends
Good morning, and thank you for responding to our invitation. I hope that this meeting will be followed by a series of similar gatherings in Najaf and other cities. As you know, we bear religious, national and humanitarian responsibilities, we are also concerned about our citizens’ worries and struggles as well as all what affects the stability of our beloved Iraq, especially at these harsh and disturbing conditions.
On the Judgment Day, we won’t be asked, whether we are Shi'a Muslim or a Sunni? Christian Catholic or Orthodox, Mandae, or Yazidi? But rather the question of God would be, what did you do for your brother? and what have you offered to your people. In fact, our mission as clerics should be focused on educating people the good will; promoting values of peace and coexistence; guiding and qualifying them to prevent evil and injustices.
Unfortunately, the fanatical speech that provoke hatred and violence "in the name of religion" has been prevailed on the last decades throughout the region and elsewhere despite its intersection with the will of God, who "created us different " and against the main religious concepts such as, love, tolerance, mutual respect and peace.
This kind of “scary” extremism is a threat to the lives of our people and the security of Iraq. Therefore, religious leaders are obliged to take responsibility by having a comprehensive vision for the causes of extremism and violence in the name of religion. Also, it is the duty “high rank” religious authorities to find ways for eliminating it and preventing the adoption of extremism by the new generation.
I would like here to appreciate the stance of religious authorities and their institutions, especially those who did not only condemn such acts, which distort the image of religion, but went one-step forward to pursue moderation and newness in religious discourse. This updating took place in the light of understanding the holy texts, and to go side by side with the cultural, social and political changes affecting society, in order to suit the lives, circumstances and culture of people, which is certainly different from the past centuries.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests and Friends
I am optimistic and hope for a positive outcome of this brotherly partnership. Our gathering here today with this openness and spirit, is by itself a reassureing message for Iraqis. May God bless us for what we are aspired to achieve in having a better future for our beloved country and its’ people,
The points listed below are for open discussion in order to come up with practical steps:
– Monitor religious speeches based on systematic roles to prevent the negative use of religion. Agree on having a law to control every religious speech that incites hatred and violence.
– Establish principles of respect for religions based on the friendly relationships among religious authorities, and to build confidence through cooperation relying on a comprehensive knowledge about other religion.
– Promote the shared humanitarian and national issues to inspire the spirit of tolerance and affection, which leads ultimately to respect the right of religious and intellectual pluralism through personal and collective initiatives.
In conclusion, the participants agreed on the following recommendations:
– Organize similar periodic meetings to discuss common important themes that consolidate coexistence.
– Establish a council of senior clerics and scholars in Iraq.
– Send a request to the Iraqi parliament to indorse a law that criminalize extremist religious speeches that incites hatred and violence and punish those who encourage it.
– Review the curricula, in which other religions can be introduced positively.
– Monitor religious sermons and unifying them by Shi’a and Sunni Endowments.
– Unite the closing prayer with a special blessings for all Iraqis and not for one of the ethnic groups only.
– Emphasis on national identity (citizenship) and not on sectarian identity.