In Mosul Emmanuel Macron Calls for Respect for Communities in Iraq

 Hülya Karahan

Production Editor

Emmanuel Macron continued his trip to Iraq on Sunday August 29 with a visit to sites under reconstruction in Mosul, a city devastated by the ISIS, and a meeting with the leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan, spearheading the fighting against this jihadist organization. “This message is civilizational but also geopolitical. There will be no balance in Iraq if there is no respect for these communities,” said the French head of state.

French President Emmanuel Macron went Sunday to meet Christians in Mosul in a church under reconstruction, on a day intended to show his “respect to all Iraqi communities” in this devastated city during its takeover from the Islamic State group (EI) in 2017.

“Work together”

The day before, Mr. Macron attended a summit in Baghdad, largely devoted to the fight against terrorism and the impact of the capture of Kabul by the Taliban in Afghanistan. He promised to stay in Iraq “whatever the American choices”.

On the second and final day of his visit to Iraq, the president came on Sunday to “recognize the importance of Mosul”, Iraq’s second largest city, and urged Iraqis to “work together” in a keynote address in Notre-Dame de l’Heure, a Catholic church heavily damaged from 2003 that Unesco is in the process of rehabilitating.

The French president is also due to meet the Sunni community of Mosul, then to Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, where he is to meet with the leaders of this autonomous region, at the forefront of the fight against ISIS.

Protection of Eastern Christians

France, which finances French-speaking Christian schools in the region, wants to protect Christians in the East, but also all minorities.

“We are going to bring back a consulate and schools” in Mosul, announced Mr. Macron.

This predominantly Sunni Muslim city and the Nineveh Plain were once high places of Christianity. But the violence that erupted from 2003, then the occupation of a third of Iraq by ISIS between 2014 and 2017, pushed the majority of Christians into exile.

They are no more than 400,000 in the country, against 1.5 million in 2003 before the American invasion. And many of those who have taken the path of exile hesitate to return home.

Mosul still bears the scars of the fighting between ISIS and Iraqi troops backed by the international coalition. The reconstruction of the city “is too slow”, said Mr. Macron.

France will stay in Iraq “as long as Iraq asks” and “whatever the American choices”, he promised Saturday during a regional summit in Baghdad largely devoted to the fight against terrorism and the consequences the capture of Kabul, Afghanistan, by the Taliban.

“This message is civilizational but also geopolitical. There will be no balance in Iraq if there is no respect for its communities,” said the French president.

Eager to treat all Iraqi faiths equally, the French head of state went to Baghdad on Saturday evening in the Shiite sanctuary of Kadhimiya, in the company of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Moustafa al-Kazimi.

Such a visit is “a first for a French president”, he stressed.

After the Mosul church, Emmanuel Macron must go to the site of the emblematic Sunni Al-Nouri mosque, destroyed by ISIS. This is where Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi proclaimed in 2014 the establishment of a “caliphate” led by the Islamic State group.

Unesco is organizing a vast project to rebuild it almost identically, with its famous leaning minaret.

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The mosque and the church visited by the Head of State in Mosul are part of three reconstruction projects led by Unesco and funded by the United Arab Emirates, to the tune of $ 50 million.

“It is true that there are few Christians in Mosul, but a few are returning and the conditions must be created to revive the city, with its diversity,” explained Unesco, which has listed the old city on the indicative list of world heritage.

Emmanuel Macron will exchange at midday with young Iraqis, including entrepreneurs and students, in the University of Mosul.

He will then spend the afternoon in Erbil, capital of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. After a visit to the French special forces at Camp Grenier, he will meet Kurdish President Nechirvan Barzani, as well as his predecessor, Massoud Barzani, whom François Hollande had met in 2014. He will finally meet with the family of a Peshmerga shot by Daesh, to pay tribute to the fights of the Kurds against ISIS.


Reviewer overview

In Mosul Emmanuel Macron Calls for Respect for Communities in Iraq - /10


After his visit to a Shiite shrine on Friday evening, Emmanuel Macron, traveling to Iraq, went to Mosul, a city devastated by the ISIS, on Sunday to renew his support for Christians in the East and to plead for respect communities.

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