“The Role of Religious Reconciliation for Stability in Iraq.”
Thursday, January 29th, 2015, 7:00 pm. at Gonzaga University, Jepson Bldg. Auditorium
Free and Open to the Public
Pax Christi Spokane, the local chapter of the national and international Catholic Peace and Justice organization Pax Christi (http://www.paxchristi.net/ & http://paxchristiusa.org/) has invited Dr. Sarah AK Ahmed, of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME) and Mustafa Mahmood, a Gonzaga student from Iraq who volunteered with FRRME last summer, to speak on “The Role of Religious Reconciliation for Stability in Iraq.” The event will take place Thursday, January 29th, 2015, 7:00 pm. at Gonzaga in the Wolff Auditorium, and it will be free and open to the public, although the main target audience is Gonzaga students. The objective of the event is to raise awareness of the complex situation in Iraq, which affects us not only globally but also locally.
The intended outcome addresses ways in which our community can build a more compassionate, inclusive climate around the cultural and religious diversity.
The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation not only provides medical care and humanitarian relief in the heart of Baghdad’s Red Zone, it works to promote peace through inter-religious dialog. According to FRRME’s mission statement, “Without genuine reconciliation, there can never be lasting peace.” The foundation works for reconciliation by engaging religious leaders in dialogue, and helping them use their influence to promote peace. The founder of FRRME, Reverend Canon Dr Andrew White, chairs Iraq’s High Council of Religious Leaders (HCRLI). “We understand that religion and politics are intimately linked in the Middle East, so a religious track is essential to a balanced peace process. When religion goes wrong, it goes very wrong. But if religion is part of the problem, it must form part of the solution – a wholly secular approach will not suffice.” FRRME also runs a health clinic which works to reconcile Iraqis at a grassroots level through its model of employing Sunni, Shia, Christian and Jewish staff. http://frrme.org/what-we-do/reconciliation/
Sarah Ahmed is the Director of Operations for the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME) as well as the personal assistant to Rev. White. She is a peace, human rights, and women’s right activist. Of her experience in Iraq, Sarah writes, “what is happening to people in Iraq, from persecution to starvation to killing, is affecting the population in more ways than the rest of the world can even imagine.” Besides her current relief effort aiding Iraqis displaced by ISIS, she also currently serves as a volunteer dentist in a medical center in Baghdad, providing quality health care free of charge to anyone who needs it, and she created the non-profit organization, Because, I Love Peace, which promotes peace through letters of love, hope and support to those struggling in Iraq (https://www.facebook.com/Becauseilovepeace/info?ref=page_internal.
Mustafa Mahmood is an engineering student at Gonzaga, who returned to Iraq in the summer of 2014 to work with Dr. Ahmed providing food and supplies to thousands of displaced minority Christian families. Not only is Mustafa highly engaged in Gonzaga’s student body, he is also very active in peace and justice efforts within the Spokane community. Mustafa is also a gifted poet whose writings eloquently communicate what it is like to be a refugee from a war-torn country (http://news.gonzaga.edu/2012/iraqi-student-poet). Both Sarah and Mastafa are Iraqi citizens and belong to the Muslim faith.
The presentation on Thursday night will focus on the situation in Iraq, not only regarding the humanitarian crisis, but also most especially the religious conflict that permeates the life of the citizens, particularly regarding Christians and Muslims. She will talk about FRRME’s work on religious reconciliation. Mustafa will speak from a personal experience on being an Iraqi citizen, and his work with Sarah. We hope to get Mustafa to share some poetry as well. The presentation will conclude with suggestions on how folks can concretely support and nurture reconciliation among international students from the Middle East and those in the Spokane community. They will end with an open question and discussion period.