Iraqi President Affirms Christian Presence, Roots

[May 20, 2008] Baghdad, Iraq -- Basim Fargo/MEU News/ANN

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani invited the Seventh-day Adventist and other Christian churches to a formal dinner at his residence last month to affirm their unique role in Iraq's historical and cultural heritage.

Baghdad Adventist Church Pastor, Fawzi Benjamin, represented the Adventist Church during the April 26 event.

In his after-dinner address to leaders of various churches, President Talabani acknowledged that the Christians were one of the founding inhabitants of Iraq. He asked them to embrace their country and their history. He encouraged them not to leave Iraq in spite of the difficult situation the country is passing through.

The president concluded his speech by declaring, "Iraq is a large garden and the Christians are the flowers in this garden. If we lose them, we lose that beautiful color and the sweet fragrance."

The Christian leaders expressed some of their needs and challenges to the president. He promised to study them and follow up personally.

There are 171 Adventists in Iraq worshiping in three churches.