The Pope's visit is vital to Iraq at many levels, Minister of Culture says

The Pope's visit is vital to Iraq at many levels, Minister of Culture says

Shafaq News/ The Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities, Hassan Nazim confirmed on Monday that the visit of Pope Francis to Iraq would contribute to revitalizing the tourism sector and enhancing societal peace.

Nazem said in a press conference attended by Shafaq News Agency, "everyone hopes that the Pope's visit will contribute to raising awareness among the youth. We hope that there will be appropriate conditions for this visit and the events in Nasiriyah do not disturb the atmospheres of the visit."

 "The Pope's visit to Dhi Qar is in the interest of the city. The government is aware of the conditions of Nasiriyah," he continued, "it is also an interfaith dialogue station in the city of Ur. It will be a potential meeting point for Iraqi religions there, including Muslims, Christians, Sabeans, Mandaeans, and Yazidis." 

 "The other major stop in the Pope's visit program is Najaf Governorate and the historic meeting with the religious authority, Ali al-Sistani," the Minister added, "the pope's visit to Najaf is of great importance. It crowns the international Islamic-Christian dialogue to cherish peace in our country, as we are still in the throes of violence and intolerance."

 "The last stop of the Pope will be the cities of Mosul and Erbil. He will continue his meetings and prayers for the victims who were killed at the hands of the terrorist organization ISIS," he said.

 The Minister of Culture believes that "Iraq has an opportunity to benefit from this visit socially because of its impact on peace and communal harmony. It will also have an economic and tourist impact once the Pope puts his feet in religious pilgrimages for its importance for the Catholic Christian religion. I hope this visit will revive tourism as the Tourism Authority has begun to establish projects in this regard".

 Regarding press coverage, he said, "The Council of Ministers recommended taking into account the requests of Arab and foreign media professionals to cover the visit. We have reached about 1,000 requests to compete with their Iraqi colleagues, and this puts before us a great challenge to facilitate their mission."

 The organizer of the conference concluded, "This visit is the result of great efforts from religious institutions concerned with interfaith dialogue, including the House of Knowledge of Imam al-Khoei, which took the initiative for years to hold the first Shiite-Catholic meetings, as well as in cooperation with Cardinal Louis Sacco, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch in Iraq and the world, and the Iraqi Fiqh Academy, the Masarat Foundation for Dr. Saad Salloum, and Adyan Foundation in Lebanon, which has made great efforts in religious and sectarian dialogues."

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