|One Night for Iraq poster|
I’m really excited that the Roman Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, has chosen the Holy Name in the city of Manchester, to host its “One Night” for Iraq public event. One Night is an early evening and over night vigil, which is being organised in solidarity with Iraqi Christians, after they were forcibly displaced from their ancestral homes by the Islamic State.
The situation facing Iraqi Christians has been one, which has shocked the world and along with witnessing the looting of people’s homes, and the forced displacement because of their religion, further outrage has been seen in recent weeks, as a direct result of the Islamic State bulldozing ancient sites like Hatra and the further desecration of churches.
For nearly a year now, the Church Bells in area’s like Mosul, Iraq, have been silent for the first time since Christianity came to Iraq 2000 years ago, and its equally horrifying to think, from the reports in the media, that seemingly ordinary British citizens, have been playing quite a substantial role in the chaos and devastation, which the Islamic State have brought to Iraq.
But what makes One Night by Aid to the Church in Need unique, is how embracing it is for people of all religions and denominations to come and join together, in a single show of solidarity for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, who have lost their homes and independence to the conflict.
Equally amazing, is the fact that Manchester is home to over 18.000 Iraqi’s and Kurds, who throughout the centuries and in recent decades, have settled in the city and have given so many positive contributions, through independent businesses and education.
Few people are even aware, that famed British World War One soldier poet Seigfried Sassoon’s own grandparents moved from Basra to Manchester in the 1800’s and older records from around AD400, report how Mesopotamian legions for the Roman Empire patrolled this once Roman city.
Since the crisis broke out last year in Iraq, Aid to the Church in Need have been the essential backbone to thousands of displaced people, and through their work in Britain, have raised money, which has been used inside of Iraq, to provide shelters, schools, food, clean water and vital support networks, which are needed for anyone whose lives have been completely turned up-side-down.
One Night is open for people of all religions and beliefs to attend, and with One Night having obtained the support of Manchester’s massive Iraqi community, is guaranteed to generate some fascinating discussions and insights, in the various workshops, which will be taking place throughout the night.
I truly hope that people will join Aid to the Church in Need, for this historic event in Manchester but more importantly to show solidarity with the Iraqi Christians and Iraqi community as a whole, because as we know from the history of the Kinder Transport, through to the settling of refugee’s from other conflict zones, the people of Manchester have a Christian, Muslim, Jewish and non aligned legacy to be proud of.
by Hussein Al-alak, editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)