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Iraqi tragedy

01 September 2005

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the World Council of Churches, a fellowship of 347 member Churches all around the world, I express my condolences and concern at the recent tragedy in your country. The stampede that resulted in up to a thousand deaths, mostly women, children and elderly people and injuries to hundreds of others, occurred while members of the Shi'a community gathered at Baghdad's Kadhimiya Mosque, to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Imam Ibn Jaafar Al-Khadim. It is indeed painful and heart-rending that this should have happened on such a solemn occasion.

This incident, however, is a direct result of the present environment of fear and intense security measures that have worsened in the country since the occupation by foreign military forces. The World Council of Churches has consistently advocated for sustained diplomatic efforts to restore peace in Iraq to enable the people to lead a normal life with dignity. This tragic event comes as a grim reminder to the international community of their obligation and urgent need to restore peace and justice for all communities in Iraq.

We request Your Excellency to convey our heartfelt condolences and deep sympathy to the victims and their families and to the leaders of the Islamic community.

We pray that God in His mercy give courage and patience to those who have suffered and lost their near and dear ones. We also pray for Your Excellency and the leadership of Iraq as you endeavour to meet the humanitarian and emotional needs of the people of Iraq in the aftermath of this unfortunate tragedy.

Assuring you of our prayers and continued support.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia
General Secretary
World Council of Churches