from oppression to encounter

Three bells cast in Normandy will soon ring in the sky over Mosul in northern Iraq. Having received the names of Gabriel, Michel and Raphaël, the three archangels of Christianity – who are also figures in Judaism and Islam – they should be installed in early 2023 in the bell tower of Notre-Dame de l’Heure, church attached to a Dominican convent created in the 19th century. Their tinkling will be a symbol of renewal for the whole city, martyred when Daesh made it its capital, from 2014 to 2017, and partly destroyed during the reconquest.

We must not fall into angelism, of course. Most Christians in Mosul who had fled the ethnic cleansing imposed by Daesh will probably never return. The city, with a Sunni Muslim majority, still feels neglected by the government of Baghdad, dominated by the Shiites. The political and economic stabilization of Iraq, today subject to the constraining influence of neighboring Iran, is slow, chaotic and uncertain. In this unstable environment, the proof is nevertheless made that peace can be rebuilt. Where violence, oppression and exclusion dominated, the meeting of religions, cultures and societies can regain the upper hand. This is a message of hope for the whole country. And, beyond that, for other theaters of war today.


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