His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia, Metropolitan of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon, has led the Assyrian Church of the East’s clergy on a visit to the Imam Mahdi Centre to congratulate Sydney’s Muslim community on the festival of Eid Ghadir Khum.
The clergy’s visit, which followed a formal invitation from the Imam Mahdi Centre, was for the sole purpose of peaceful communication between the Christian community and the Islamic community across Iraq and Australia.
Other delegations were also represented at the festival celebration, including the most prominent religious and social figures of the Mandaean community in Australia.
The visitors were welcomed by the head of the Imam Mahdi Centre, Sheikh Haidar Asamiani, along with other well-known and respected members of the Islamic community.
Delivering a speech, His Beatitude Mar Meelis mentioned the prevalence of bloody violence against Christians in Iraq, which has become a religious slogan for Muslim extremists.
This violence includes kidnapping, murder, fear, instability, migration, with the growing issue of extremists worsening the instability of Christian families living in the homeland.
His Beatitude said this growing issue requires a further increase in protection, especially needed in churches, community centres, schools, at work and most importantly in the home environment.
In addition, poverty, unemployment and deteriorating life conditions were highlighted as a major issue leading to the lack of cultural dimensions for intellectual and social daily activities. This incubates terrorism and encourages extremists to further threaten the future of Iraq and its Christian communities.
Mutual relations between Christianity and Islam were also mentioned by His Beatitude, who pointed to the ideological issues that exist between the two religions.
Furthermore, His Beatitude encouraged members in the Muslim and Christian faiths to embrace each other with openness and brotherhood through converging on the principle of justice.
His Beatitude also commented on the social, intellectual and scientific development of Arab society, referencing historical books that portray a clear image of the importance of Christianity in building the pillars of civilisation.
Upon conclusion, His Beatitude stressed that the day of Ghadir is a day of awakening continuously to the principles of tolerance; a day in raising the banners of peace and love in defense of justice.
Christianity and Islam, said His Beatitude, can meet on the way to the straight path and have the ability to repair such a broken world full of sin and misery.
This will be done through dispelling false images in relationships between humans with different beliefs; moderation; compassion; love and brotherhood; and spreading good and preventing evil.[nggallery id=105]