By: Kayhan Int’l Staff Writer
"…Since the principal followers of Christianity requested me to establish a Covenant and a treaty among all the Christians placed under the shadow of the rule of Islam, now, by virtue of this Covenant, there shall be perpetual peace and tranquility between Christians and Muslims…”
The above passage is from a lengthy Covenant dated 660 AD and preserved in a Christian monastery in Iraq which for some unexplained reasons is not on the itinerary of the Head of the Catholic sect of Christianity, Pope Francis, who on Saturday when he visited Holy Najaf for a meeting with Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Sistani, was not taken inside Sacred Shrine of the person who had issued it.
This indicates the glaring discrepancies of the first ever papal visit to the Cradle of Civilization, where Prophet Abraham was born and where in the Grand Golden-Domed Mausoleum of Holy Najaf rests in eternal peace the Prophet of Islam’s Vicegerent, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), in the same sanctuary where reposes the Father of mankind, Adam along with Noah.
Perhaps, the Pope could be excused since Iraq is currently not yet free from US hegemony, which explains why Francis was not asked to pay homage on his arrival at Baghdad International Airport to the two great martyrs, Iran’s Qassem Soleimani and Iraq’s Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were cowardly killed by the US last year for saving Mesopotamia from the terrorists.
Anyway, the visitor from Vatican did notice that above posters welcoming his visit were huge billboards depicting the portraits of Soleimani and al-Muhandis with expression of gratitude from the Iraqi Christians for having saved them from virtual extinction at the hands of the American-backed takfiri terrorists.
Of the Pope’s 40-mimute meeting with the Grand Ayatollah the two sides issued statements on the need for interfaith dialogue and peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians, but with a slight difference.
The Hawza’s version said Grand Ayatollah Sistani referred to the tragedies and problems that regional countries are facing, including wars, economic blockades and displacement of the people, especially what is happening to the people of Palestine.
The Vatican’s version omitted any reference to the Palestinians or their sufferings at the hands of the Zionists – the sworn enemies of both Muslims and Christians.
Nonetheless, it was a good beginning, especially in view of the fact that Pope Francis, throughout his visit, is under the secure protection of the Hashd ash-Sha’bi or the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) who were formed in 2014 to weed out the terrorists on the edict of Ayatollah Sistani – of course, with Iran’s help – and which the US is trying in vain to disband.
It is worth noting that the Hawza in Najaf has never made any discrimination between the various Muslim denominations – as could be vouched by Iraq’s Sunni Arabs and the ethnic Kurds – or for that matter between Muslims and the various Christian sects.
For instance, as a devout follower of Imam Ali (AS), in 1966 Grand Ayatollah Muhsin Al-Hakim had denounced the anti-Kurdish policy of the Baghdad regime, and also issued a religious edict for the protection of indigenous Christians who were being persecuted – points that the Vatican ought to note.
In conclusion, we expect the Head of the Catholic Church to call for end of the US hegemony over Iraq, rather than content himself to ceremonial sermons devoid of the realities on the ground, during his visit to the Churches in Mosul and Erbil, or at the ruins of ancient Ur near Nasseriyah where he would be holding a grand inter-religious show at the supposed place of birth of Prophet Abraham.