Pope Francis (second from right) prays to victims of conflict in a plaza surrounded by destroyed churches on the 7th in Mosul, northern Iraq = AP
Pope Francis (84), who is visiting Iraq, arrived in northern Mosul on the 7th, when the militant group “Islamic State” (IS) invaded. The Pope visited the square with four Christian churches exposed to terrorist attacks and prayed to the victims of the conflict.
“We reaffirm that in the birthplace of civilization, hope and peace are stronger than hatred and war.” According to the Vatican City, the Pope greeted the square, which was also attended by Sunni Muslims, arguing that reconciliation of the people was important for the reconstruction of the destroyed towns and communities.
Mosul was overwhelmed by IS in 2014 and declared “national foundation”. It was a city that symbolized the threat of IS, with the late Baghdad, the supreme leader of the time calling himself the “successor” of the Prophet Muhammad, giving a speech.
The Iraqi government regained Mosul in July 2017. After that, it announced that it had wiped out IS from all over Iraq. The Pope’s visit to Mosul is likely to be a strong impression on the Iraqi government for improving security.
■ Even now, about half cannot return from the evacuation site