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The Debate – The pope in Iraq: What future for Christians in the Middle East?

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High stakes, high risks for the first papal visit ever to Iraq. It’s a trip Pope Francis said he could no longer put off. This is despite the sanitary issues of crowds and religious services, despite the always volatile security situation there. However, the pope is seeking to make the journey to the birthplace of the prophet Abraham in the wake of two decades of intercommunal strife that culminated in the rise of the Islamic State group and forced most Christians to flee. 

A religious service in the bombed-out city of Mosul will be just one of the highlights of a trip that also includes a visit to the Muslim pilgrimage city of Najaf and a sit-down with Shia Islam spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. 

So what can interfaith dialogue achieve in a country and a region where protests over the past two years have challenged age-old sectarian divides, but where leaders continue to defend the status quo?

Produced by Alessandro Xenos, Juliette Laurain and Imen Mellaz.

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