At the General Audience on August 31, Pope Francis called for peace, dialogue, and fraternity in response to the deadly protests in Iraq.
The pope prayed for peace in Iraq and stressed that dialogue and fraternity are the best ways "to deal with the current difficulty" to achieve peaceful coexistence.
Recalling his visit to Iraq last year, the Holy Father highlighted his experience of the "great desire for normalcy and peaceful coexistence among the different religious communities in Iraq."
Pope Francis said that he is following up with concerns about the violent events in the Iraqi capital on August 29 - 30.
Deadly protests and clashes took place in Baghdad, resulting in at least 22 people being killed and dozens injured.
The protest started with the withdrawal of the powerful Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, from Iraqi politics. Hundreds of Sadr’s supporters stormed the government palace and clashed with the security forces.
In the report by Reuters, Sadr said in the address on television, "This is not a revolution because it has lost its peaceful character. The spilling of Iraqi blood is forbidden."
The protests reportedly eased after Sadr ordered his followers to end their protests in Baghdad on August 30.
Sadr appeared as the main winner of the country’s October parliamentary elections, but his efforts failed to form a government with Sunni Muslim Arab and Kurdish parties, not including Shi’ite parties backed by Iran.
The nationalist Sadr opposed all foreign and Iranian influences. - With input from Vatican News and Reuters
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