I've been on Bud McFarlane's mailing list ever since I got his permission to republish an editorial of his that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. The column described a conference of Iraqi religious leaders that took place in Baghdad this past June that was organized by Canon Andrew White, an Anglican priest who has spent the last ten years in Iraq.
On the last day of the conference the delegates pledged to reconvene as soon as possible. A final settlement will likely take some time. But current plans call for a second meeting to be held in Cairo in August. The irony of this possibly historic work is that it is operating on a shoestring. Mr. White has organized a nonprofit in the U.S. and is now trying to raise the fairly modest sums needed to keep this trialogue going. If you'd like to know more about his efforts, please send me a note.
I sent him a note. I asked his permission to post the editorial, and since then I've been among those getting updates on progress toward that second meeting to be held in Cairo in August. It happened this past week. Here is the text of the agreement that was reached.
By the Mercy of Allah
Thanks be to God and Peace be Upon His Prophet and His Family and Friends
On the date of 22nd August 2007, in Cairo, Egypt in two continuous meetings, the present situation in Iraq has been discussed with all its problems and complexities. After long discussions all those meeting have decided it is necessary to begin a process of engagement including the highest level of religious leaders as soon as possible. This engagement will focus on reducing violence, and working together for peace, the ending of terrorist violence and the disbanding of militia activities in order to build a civilised country and to work in the framework of law. Those listed have committed to:
1 To form a preparatory committee to bring in the recommendations of the above
2 To work toward the spreading of the Spirit of Unity and brotherhood
3 To commit to meeting together every 15 days
4 To actively engage with other influential and proactive religious leaders with the highest qualifications in order to issue a comprehensive (Sunni and Shia) Fatwa against violence
Sheikh Dr Ahmed Al Kubasi
Ayatollah Ammar Abu Ragheef
Sheikh Fateh Kashif Al Ghittah
Sheikh Dr Abdul Latif Humayeem
Sheikh Mustapha Al Jabory
It may seem a modest achievement. But according to Mr. McFarlane, Sheikh Ahmed al Kubaisi whose name is among those who signed on, is Iraq's senior Sunni religious leader. His Friday sermons, which are broadcast each week from Dubai, reach an estimated 20 million people. His word carries weight, so it is not unreasonable to believe something will come of this initiative.