Christians aid Muslim nonviolence initiative in Iraq - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
February 9, 2005

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Christians aid Muslim nonviolence initiative in Iraq

-09/02/05

The radical group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) which has maintained a continuous presence in Iraq since before the invasion, documenting cases of Iraqi prisoner abuse and working for human rights, has completed a five-day training for Muslim peacemakers.

The training by four CPT members, Peggy Gish, Cliff Kindy, Maxine Nash, and Allan Slater, was undertaken at the request of a human rights organization in Karbala.

The training included working with examples of non-violent peacemaking, understanding the power of non-violence, the spirituality of non-violence as well as planning for public actions. The trainers also covered various smaller topics, including trauma and self-care, working with media and human rights documentation.

The group also explored the roots of non-violence in the Muslim tradition and told the CPTers that Islam has a firm tradition of non-violence rooted in the teachings of the Qu'ran and in the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.

In the course of the training, participants shared stories of suffering and trauma they experienced under Saddam Hussein and during the wars in which Iraq has participated, including the most recent war with the United States and the subsequent occupation. The trainees said they feel compelled to use their suffering for peacemaking instead of avenging wrongs done to them.

"In the 60's, Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together peacefully in Karbala. It was after the 1991 uprisings against Saddam Hussein that his regime helped spread tension among the different groups. Now MPT can help remove the barriers." said one member of the new Muslim peacemaking team.

"We must not make excuses. We as Iraqi, are complicit with the mass graves and killings in our past. We must begin with ourselves to build a new Iraqi humanity. The suggestion of going to Falluja helped me to understand more deeply what nonviolence calls us to. We must move on to overcome the divide" said another.

The Muslim group has now formed a coordinating committee to move them toward establishing goals, bylaws, and plan for facilitating another nonviolence training for students and staff at the Al Uhl Beit University in Karbala.

Muslim peacemakers and CPT are planning for future trainings in other venues around Karbala.

Possibilities include training at a university in Karbala and in the surrounding cities of Najaf and Hilla.

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