ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Joseph Mahmoud
Chaldean archbishopric holds a reconciliation forum today. Some 50 political,
religious and cultural leaders attend the event. Mgr Sako presents a seven-point
proposal, signed by participants, as a "joint commitment" to dialogue. A
committee is set to see to its implementation.
Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - The Chaldean Archbishopric of Kirkuk, northern Iraq,
organised a reconciliation forum today on "Building bridges of peace", on the
initiative of Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of the city. The meeting brought
together Christian and Muslims leaders, altogether some 50 people, including
politicians like the provincial governor, lawmakers, party chiefs and tribal
sheiks; religious leaders from the Shia, Sunni and Christian communities; and
representatives of the Kurdish, Arab, Turkmen and Assyrian-Chaldean communities.
The forum comes a few days after a series of attacks left a trail of blood
and destruction in Kirkuk as well as the rest of the country. Despite the
departure of US troops, the situation has not improved and peace and security
remain as elusive as ever.
Today's meeting is "an opportunity for all parties" to sit around a table to
talk "in a civilised manner", Church sources in Kirkuk said. This way they can
try to solve problems and bridge divisions, thus "reducing tensions rather than
make it worse with threats."
Among the various speeches and interventions, Mgr Sako presented a
seven-point proposal that participants signed as a joint "commitment" to
dialogue and peace. An ad hoc committee made up of individuals from various
backgrounds will be set up to evaluate the application of its principles and
In his address, Mgr Sako reiterated the principle of dialogue with Islam so
that people can live together and overcome theological issues that today are
For Christians, this means adopting a language that can be "understood" by
the Muslim community. At the same time, a "secular civil society" is necessary
based on "shared Iraqi citizenship."
A number of plans are on the drawing board to achieve these goals. They
include a kindergarten for 80 children (10 per cent Muslim) and an elementary
school that should open in September.
As those behind these initiatives note, coexistence begins in