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Michael Yon: Come Home

Posted by Richard on November 16, 2007

So you think that the war is lost and Iraqis just aren't ready to live in an open, tolerant, pluralist democracy? Then go look at Michael Yon's new dispatch, Come Home, a photo essay about the mass at St. John's Church in Baghdad yesterday (you might want the tissues handy). You really need to go look at the whole thing, but here's something to think about:

LTC Michael told me today that when al Qaeda came to Dora, they began harassing Christians first, charging them “rent.” It was the local Muslims, according to LTC Michael, who first came to him for help to protect the Christians in his area. That’s right. LTC Michael told me more than once that the Muslims reached out to him to protect the Christians from al Qaeda. Real Muslims here are quick to say that al Qaeda members are not true Muslims. From charging “rent,” al Qaeda’s harassment escalated to killing Christians, and also Muslims. Untold thousands of Christians and Muslims fled Baghdad in the wake of the darkness of civil war.  Most of the Christians are gone now; having fled to Syria, Jordan or Northern Iraq.

Today, Muslims mostly filled the front pews of St John’s. Muslims who want their Christian friends and neighbors to come home. The Christians who might see these photos likely will recognize their friends here. The Muslims in this neighborhood worry that other people will take the homes of their Christian neighbors, and that the Christians will never come back. And so they came to St John’s today in force, and they showed their faces, and they said, “Come back to Iraq. Come home.” They wanted the cameras to catch it. They wanted to spread the word: Come home. Muslims keep telling me to get it on the news. “Tell the Christians to come home to their country Iraq.”

Wow.

Don't forget, Michael Yon's reporting is entirely reader-supported. Please contribute a little something to help support the next dispatch. 

UPDATE (11/17): Two comments from Vodkapundit's 11/16 post about Michael Yon's dispatch:

What makes the picture and the people so moving to me is the background of this cross raising event. St. John's Chaldean Catholic Church was car bombed along with two other churches all within minutes of each other exactely one year ago on November 8, 2006. The congregation took down the cross and bells and put them in storage. They cleaned up the interior of the church, and at an Easter liturgy this year they welcomed a Shiite notable, who spoke movingly of the unity of Iraqis. I am touched by the generosity of spirit of these Muslims. The cross and bells are hated by reactionary Muslims. What a magnificent rebuke is this event of neighborliness. This is an icon of tolerance and mutual acceptance and,yes,love.

Posted by Michael Barger at November 16, 2007 10:56 PM
Again, wow. Thank you, Michael, for the additional background information. 

I am neither a Christian nor a Muslim, but this makes me happy for both. "One foot in front of the other"… that is what it takes. How wonderful it is that those feet are usually walking alongside a strong young American idealist. I am so proud of my country and its young warriors for peace.

Posted by sherlock at November 17, 2007 12:49 AM

Like sherlock, I'm neither a Christian nor a Muslim. But I enthusiastically second his comment. There are, as I said recently, many "decent people of good will" in Iraq, and I'm so very proud of them and of the brave and dedicated Americans who are helping them. The scale is smaller, but looking at Michael Yon's photo essay evoked in me many of the same emotions I felt when I watched the Berlin Wall fall — a tremendous feeling of joy and pride about the greatness and glory that we humans are capable of, and a sense of optimism and hope for the future. 

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