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Peacemaking in Fallujah

The first project for these Shia Muslims was to reach out to their fellow Iraqis, the Sunni Muslims in the devastated city of Fallujah, where 30,000 homes were damaged, 5,000 were destroyed, 50 mosques were burned, 10,000-15,000 people were killed and countless were injured, detained or became refugees. An initial visit to Fallujah was to bring a carload of medical supplies bought with money raised by two brothers of Jarrar's family, Raed and Khalid and purchased in Jordan where one of them lives. The MPT members then met with Sheik Abdul Hameed Al Jumaily of Al Furqan Mosque, where Sami was introduced as the MPT representative. While discussing how they could work with the residents of Fallujah, a member of the public works department suggested they have a general clean up project since there had been no trash collection for several months. It was agreed that they would meet Friday morning, May 6, at the At Furqan Mosque.

A day before the planned clean up, the MPT got a phone call from the sheik, warning them not to come because of the lack of security. The 15 Shia from Karbala and the 3 Christians from the U.S. declared that we are coming no matter what. We are one people and if we don't come now, we won't ever come. We feel that if we are serious and truthful, we should share your agony and happiness. The sheik cried and then said, God bless you. We will be waiting for you at the entrance of Fallujah.

Sami says, at first the residents thought the MPT was there to take pictures, but then were surprised by our seriousness. We put on the orange jumpsuits of the public works workers and cleaned up the streets around the mosque. They cried and kissed us and asked us to stop to pray with them. It was Shias and Sunnis and Christians working together in peace.

At the prayer service, the sheik changed his sermon to speak about the unity of Iraq. The Sunni worshipers sought out the Shias to greet them and to welcome them. When the service ended, the visitors from Karbala lined up at the door to hug and kiss the Fallujans as they left. We expressed our love for each other and our eagerness to be in solidarity, says Sami. Learning to trust each other is essential to preventing a civil war.

 
 
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