Letter of April 1 st 2003 from Jacques Gaillot
Iraq: A people in turmoil





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Iraq: A people in turmoil  épreuves 
continuer de vivre How can one leave a city so full of life when war is imminent? It needs only a short time to feel involved with this people so much affected by the sufferings of the war with Iran, the Golf war and also from an embargo with no end. But people continue to live normally with dignity. It is their strength. At sun set, I liked to observe those men playing with dominos at a terrace of a Coffee shop. 
scène de la vie quotidienne  

Hôpital St. Raphaël à Bagdad Accompanying a delegation, I visited Saint Raphael Hospital administered by Iraqi religious Sisters; I was filled with admiration by a dozen of newborn babies gathered in a special reserved room. 
 Bebé couveuese au hôpital St. Raphaël des religieuses irakiennes à Bagdad
Hôpital Saddam à Bagdad A woman was swaddling her just born baby: "How beautiful life is!" I said. " These newborn babies demonstrate life". The woman answered with some sadness;" Yes but they are good for the war! They meant that these babies might not have the chance of a long life. 
 hôpital public pour enfants "pendant la guerre du golfe, 2 missiles tombés en ce lieu on fait 412 victimes

I have been happy to celebrate mass of the 1st Sunday of Lent in Saint Joseph Church with the Dominican Friars. The assembly was praying with fervor and gravity. Their welcome was hearty.   la messe à St. Joseph
Their remarks touched me: " Thank you very much to be with us, you know who your friends are when the times are difficult"." We did all we could for peace, today we just have to be confident in God and fight if necessary"

Our group went to Ur, the place where Abraham heard God" Leave your country, your relatives and the house of your father to go to the country that I will show you. Of you I will make a great people". Our

 OUR: au Sud de l'Irak

Abraham left Ur and became the father of the believers; it was about 4000 years ago.
symbole fragile de la paix In this deserted area, the view was spreading endlessly. As the crow flies, Kuwait is not far. I was thinking about the huge armada of the American army camping along the borderline, ready to attack. One more reason to plant an olive tree, a symbol of peace.  
Moslems and Christians prayed together, each according to their faith.  prière Al Amiria

 Prière dans l'abri Al Amiria à Bagdad

Dr. Abdullatif Humayim I met twice a religious Moslem chief. I was impressed. I was facing a man of great culture with an open mind. His humanity and tolerance was a testimony.  
 Dr. Abdullatif Humayim chef religieux musulman à Bagdad
That such a person could exist prevents the confusion between terrorists and Islam. On the contrary it is an invitation to dialogue and to get together.

During this travel I constantly associated the Iraqi people with the Palestinian people. They are two humiliated and stifled people who are subjected to an intolerable violence.Both rebel with a dignity that makes them able to stand in this turmoil.  Hôpital Saddam à Bagdad

 hôpital public pour enfants
Mosquée Ali Bagdad The words of Pablo Neruda that he addressed to the new masters of the world came back to my memory "Even if they cut off all the flowers, they will never be the master of the Spring". Truly one cannot stop the destiny of a people. 
Dans la Mosquée de prophete Ali Bagdad   

Jacques Gaillot
Bishop of Partenia

impressions de voyage en Irak, mars 2003, photos: Anne de Loisy