Students, academics, and religious leaders from the Imam Jafar al-Sadiq University in Iraq visit the Blessed Virgin Mary Church to demonstrate close community bonds.
In an attempt to foster and promote religious coexistence, students and staff from the Imam Ja’afar al-Sadiq University visited the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Baghdad, where they condemned attacks against Christians and called for unity amongst the different ethno-religious groups in Iraq.
“We went with a group of our students to visit the church to support coexistence and brotherhood in Iraqi society and to condemn the attacks on our Christian brothers around the world,” said Dr Hazem al-Rubaei, the head of the Law Department at the Imam Jaafar al Sadiq University.
The visit, which came following an ISIS attack on Easter services in the city of Colombo in Sri Lanka, shows that despite the militant group’s attempt to disunite and spread discord between religious groups around the world, Iraqis will continue to respect and love their fellow citizens, no matter what their faith or ethnicity may be.
“[This visit] is a clear message to all extremists and terrorists and to all those who tamper with the security of the country and citizens. It is a message that no matter what you do, you will not be able to disentangle the bonds of love, good, and coexistence between Iraq’s religions and sects,” said Sheikh Mohammed al-Naji, a religious cleric and the director of Public Relations at the Imam Ja’afar al-Sadiq University. “Religions are one, and God sent prophets for the sake of the unified word, love, and peace.”
The students that attended the trip also stressed the importance of unity and how it should be taught to the upcoming generations so that Iraq can continue to be diverse and prosper with its different communities. In a recently uncovered story, two young Muslims from the city of Mosul rescued an 800-year-old Christian manuscript from the risk of being damaged by ISIS, during the group’s control over the city. According to the young Muslims, these acts are only possible when citizens love and respect each other’s religious’ heritages.
Since the defeat of ISIS in December 2017, more and more initiatives have been launched, which aim to strengthen and promote religious coexistence between the different communities in Iraq. The extensive amount of projects and initiatives being carried out to foster these inter-community relationships shows that Iraqis will continue to reject sectarianism, hate speech and violence directed at other faith communities within their country.
“They will never divide us,” read a poster that some of the students held during the visit.