Iraqi Christians and Muslims criticize Sunni mufti’s statement

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Iraqi Christians and Muslims criticize Sunni mufti’s statement

asianews.it

Iraqi Christians and Muslims have reacted with outrage to a statement by Iraq’s Grand Mufti Abdul Mehdi Sumaidaie, who recently said that it is “impermissible” for Muslims to celebrate Christmas and New Year since they are Christian holidays.

The controversy began on Friday, December 28, following his sermon at the end of Friday prayers in a mosque in central Baghdad. In it, the prominent Sunni cleric urged Muslims not join Christians on their holy days.

One of the first people to slam the Islamic leader's claims is the Chaldean patriarch, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, who noted that a man of faith, whatever his religion, should favor brotherhood, tolerance and love, not division and sedition.

The patriarch called on the Iraqi government to prosecute those who spread such rhetoric, especially when they do it from official platforms.

“These are misconceptions, misguided and far from the correct knowledge of religions," Sako said. "Our people today need to deepen the common denominators in order to contribute to the achievement of coexistence, not treachery, atonement and incitement to hatred,” he added.

The Chaldean primate mentioned the issue again in his New Year message, which he sent to AsiaNews. He also praised the Iraqi government for declaring Christmas a national holiday for all citizens.

The prelate called on Christians and Muslims to "open up to the other" and "deepen" what they share so that they can build a "bright future".

Several ordinary Christians and Muslims have reacted to the mufti’s words with scorn. On social media, Sumaidaie has come in for criticism, with many demanding he retract his statement.

Several Iraqi Muslim clerics have also expressed support for and solidarity with Christians, chief among them the head of the Sunni Endowment Authority Abdul Latif Heymem who earlier visited the Chaldean patriarchate and met Cardinal Sako as a show of solidarity and closeness.

During their talk he said that Christians are an "essential" part of the nation, with "strong bonds" and "extended roots" that sink deep into the country’s history.

Without mentioning the mufti, he called on ordinary Iraqis to oppose those who want to meddle with Iraq’s unity and the country’s social and political fabric.

"We deplore the offensive terms" used against Christians, Heymem said, which "do not represent" the Sunni community and undermine “national unity".

Tue, 01/01/2019 - 14:08
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