Mustafa Kaya: "Can the Pope bring democracy to the Middle East?"

Mustafa Kaya: "Can the Pope bring democracy to the Middle East?"
Date: 7.3.2021 17:00

Milli Gazete columnist Mustafa Kaya writes on Pope's Middle East visit. Here is the full article.

email Print zoom+ zoom-
As announced to the world public weeks ago, news agencies and social media accounts have always used the same word since December 2020: Dwindling. Later, it was shared that Pope Francis will make an official visit to Iraq for the first time between 5 and 8 March. This visit was made to protect the dwindling Christian community in the country and to raise morale. Considering the coronavirus pandemic and the recent escalation of actions in the country (3 March attack on Ayn al-Asad American airbase), this visit, which could be considered quite risky for the 84-year-old Pope, should have been very important for the Vatican. The town of Ur, where three heavenly religions emerged and is believed to be the birthplace of the prophet Ibrahim, was of historical importance for Christianity as well as Islam and Judaism. However, the fact that there has not been a visit to Iraq at this level throughout the history of the Papacy showed itself as an issue to be considered. Another reason for this visit is the cold stance of Christians living in the region towards other sects and the fact that Christianity is no longer a Middle Eastern origin religion and assumes a completely Western identity. But Pope Francis, who had not visited the Vatican for the past year, decided to go to the homeland of the Prophet Ibrahim during the epidemic, raising the question of whether the issue was urgent. This religious authority, which did not speak much during the long years of regional wars, lost lives, and extinct hearths, is trying to give messages of peace and brotherhood by visiting the Mesopotamian region these days. Naturally, it is subjected to the test of sincerity.
As it is known, even daily affairs are planned with a strict discipline in the Vatican, while every step and visit of the Popes is organized hour by hour. Within the framework of this plan, the Alitalia plane departing from Rome on March 5, at 07:30 in the morning, landed at Baghdad International Airport at 14:00 local time and the Pope was welcomed by Iraqi Prime Minister Mostafa Qazimi. It was interesting that during the trip he told journalists that the visit would be "symbolic" due to the casualties inflicted in the wars in the region. Increasing security measures at the places where he was going to go showed the importance of the visit. The Pope, who moved from the airport to the presidential palace after his arrival in the country, also paid a courtesy visit to President Berham Salih. On the way to the hall where he would give a speech, Iraqi youth welcoming him with folk dances with swords in the corridors created interesting scenes. The Pope, who was observed to be tired, complained in his speech that radicalism did not allow people from different religions and sects to live together due to the misinterpretation of religion, and that thousands of lives were lost in the terrorist incidents and inter-sectarian conflicts in the country. However, he refrained from pointing out how these losses were given in Iraq, which turned into a scene of conflict between the United States of America (USA), which settled in the country with the invasion in 2003 and other countries in the region. In addition, yesterday (March 6), he met with the top Shiite cleric of Iraq, Ayatollah Ali as-Sistani, at his home in Najaf, where the streets were decorated with Vatican flags. In this meeting, the Pope thanked Sistani for "defending the weakest, the persecuted" in the conflicts in recent years. Also, as it is known, Sistani claims to act independently from Iran and rejects the principle of "Velayet-i faqih". This issue is an issue that needs to be discussed within Shiism itself. But like Najaf, Ali's (r.a.) dominance over the city, which is the most important education area of ​​Shiism in the world (al-Havzatü'l-İlmiyye), makes him an important figure. Sistani has always supported the ability of Shiites to coexist with Sunnis in other regions and Gulf countries and took a stance against violence. Perhaps this meeting was planned with the reservations that the Pope's visit would give the impression that it was made only by considering the Christians in the region.
As you read these lines, Pope Francis will be flying from Baghdad to Erbil in the morning. It was planned to be welcomed by the political and religious leaders of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government at the airport and to hold an official meeting with Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in the airport VIP hall. Later, a helicopter will cross to Mosul and a prayer program will be carried out for those who lost their lives in the war in Hos al-Bieaa square. But perhaps the main purpose of the visit, Christians, whose numbers have decreased from one and a half million to 300 thousand, will mostly take place in Karakuş, where they live. The religious ceremony to be conducted by the Pope in Iraq will take place from Karakus to Erbil and will be held at the Franso Hariri Stadium at 16:00 on Sunday. The choice of the stadium for the ritual was probably intended as a show of force against the issue of dwindling from worship.
As a result, as in every official visit, soft language will be used and mutual gestures will be made among the leaders. The roads and streets where the guest leader will pass will be cleaned and a good image will be created about the country. However, it will not be talked about why they caused the massacre of the local people by invading the region with all the power of the West in order to remove a dictator like Saddam Hussein, whom they held in power with their own support in the country. The bombing of death-spitting bombs on the people under the pretext of “taking democracy” and people being displaced from their places, homes and homes will always be ignored. The Pope's wish to open its doors to a Syrian Orthodox family with two children in the Vatican and to welcome at least one family in all churches around the world did not go beyond a good wish. Therefore, a visit to Iraq will become an ordinary trip amid superficial wishes and smiles of kindness.
After all, if the world could see the Middle East as the cradle of civilizations, perhaps if it could be declared as a museum status or a human heritage, this trip could be beneficial. Our hope and expectation is that the "Fertile Crescent" will be declared as a humanitarian heritage, as a protected area where everyone will be respected, not be plundered for political interests, and even a stone cannot be replaced. Hoping that the days of peace, tranquility and prosperity will be near ...


Milli Gazete Puplication Group All Rights Reserved © 2000-2016 - Can not be published without permission ! Tel : +90 212 697 1000  /  Fax : +90 212 697 1000 Software Development and System Support: Milli Gazete