Reunion at 45 degrees in the shade

Our 8th Iraq trip in July 2021

A report by David Müller

Back in Northern Iraq for two weeks after a 16-month break from Corona.

While much effort is being made in the Kurdish Regional Government on the issue of religious freedom, the situation in the Central Iraqi Government seems depressingly bad. This is reported by Christian parliamentarians (left to right) Janan Husainy, Member of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament; Ano Abdoka, Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government; and Hoshyar Yalda, Member of the Iraqi Parliament.
Romeo Hakari, Christian member of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament and chairman of the Human Rights Committee.

Hoshyar Siwaily, Former Minister and currently the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s Foreign Relations Officer. Regular, friendly contact with us is important to him.
Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana, Founder and Executive director of the national relief agency CAPNI. He again shared many interesting facts about the situation of Christians and religious minorities in Iraq.
Cardinal Louis Sako, Patriarch of Babylon and worldwide head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, spontaneously invited me to a joint dinner with the approximately 80 Iraqi Chaldean archbishops, bishops and priests who were meeting for a spiritual retreat. It was a very warm, friendly reunion with many old and new friends.
Between Najeeb Moussa Michaeel, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul (left) and Yousif Thomas Mirkis, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaymaniya (right).
Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.
Prince Amer Seido (2nd from right) spent many hours with me in Lalish. This is the holy place of the Yazidis. I gained many exciting insights.
Khalid Jamal, Director General for Christian Affairs in the Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
Mariwan Naqshbandy, committed to religious freedom and social peace in the Kurdish Regional Government.
Kaldo Ramzi, Director of the Syriac Heritage Museum, explains to me the history of Ankawa, the Christian suburb of Erbil, and the intense influence of Christian Syriac-Assyrian-Chaldean culture on life in Iraq. Here it becomes visible that the roots of Christianity in Iraq go deeper than those of Islam. Visiting the museum is a must for anyone who wants to have an understanding of the context in Iraq!
Krmanj Othman works in the Kurdish Ministry of Justice and is very committed to the field of human rights. His conviction: „The religious minorities have a crucial importance for the future of Iraq!“
Father Jens Petzold is Prior of the Al-Khalil monastic community in Sulaymaniya.
Deir Maryam Monastery is a place for dialogue, culture, research and interfaith learning. Located directly on the mountainous border with Iran.

A very thoughtful day in Halabja. In March 1988, a poison gas attack was carried out there by the Iraqi air force under Saddam Hussein. Between 3200 and 5000 people died, some instantly, in unimaginable ways. Sadly, much of the equipment for the production of the poison gas was supplied by Germany. Kurdawan Naqshbandi, President of the First Military Court, showed me not only the sad sides of the area but also the beautiful ones!

With Karwan Namiq, NGO officer in the Kurdish Regional Government’s Council of Ministers, in the historic old city of Erbil.

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