Sophia's Peace Work

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Another Snipet: Muslim Peacemaking Team

This is from the CPT Iraq Team and was written by CPT Member, Peggy Gish. The Team is working with an Iraqi group to form the Muslim Peacemaking Team (MPT) partially modeled after the Christian Peacemaker Team. CPT just finished conducting a nonviolence training for the MPT in Kerbala, Iraq.

Overcoming the Divide by Peggy Gish
February 2, 2005

The agenda for our CPT team's first post-training meeting with the fledgling Muslim Peacemaking Team (MPT) in Kerbala, seemed pretty straightforward and functional. The group proceeded to establish a coordinating committee to move the group toward establishing their goals and bylaws and plan for facilitating another nonviolence
training for students and staff at the Al Uhl Beit University in Kerbala. One long-range goal mentioned was to spread MPT throughout Iraq, and even beyond to other areas of the world.

Then, what we thought would be a quick discussion of a suggestion for their consideration, turned into an animated time of serious searching and sharing. Cliff Kindy shared about CPT in Hebron and Israeli groups helping to rebuild homes of Palestinians that had been demolished. He went on to say that the Iraq CPT team is
exploring the possibility of helping a refugee family from Falluja rebuild their destroyed home and invited the MPT group to join them if that worked out.

At first there was a general nod of agreement, but then the concerns began to fly around the room. "Yes, but there's a sectarian barrier between us (Shia) and them (Sunni)." "When we visited and helped the Fallujans at the Ain Tamur refugee camp, this was in our province, so that was easy." "Part of the problem is that the Sunni
used to be in power, but now that has been taken away by the Shia, so we don't know if they will accept us."

Among the fears and concerns expressed were also words of vision that even challenged us. "It may be difficult, but it is possible." "In the 60's, Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together peacefully in Kerbala. It was after the 1991 uprisings
against Saddam Hussein that his regime helped spread tension among the different groups. Now MPT can help remove the barriers." "I see now that we are way behind in grasping the concepts of nonviolence. Nonviolence asks us to deal with the divisions in our own country." And, "We must not make excuses, we as Iraqi, are complicit with the mass graves and killings in our past. We must begin with ourselves to build a new Iraqi humanity. The suggestion of going to Falluja helped me to understand more deeply what nonviolence calls us to. We must move on to overcome the divide."

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