Iraq state TV to broadcast Sunni and Shi’ite Friday prayers
Iraq’s state television channel Iraqiya plans to broadcast Friday prayers from both Shi’ite and Sunni mosques, a novelty in a country where until now Islamic services were only shown on sectarian channels. That kept the two neatly separate. Rather than take either side, Iraqiya avoided broadcasting Friday prayers after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. But it began today with a live transmission from the Sunni Umm al-Qura mosque in Baghdad.
Station manager Nawfal Abd Dahash told Reuters in Baghdad: “We will start doing live broadcasts from mosques from both sects. This is to enhance national unity and to prove that there is no difference between Shi’ites and Sunnis.”
The broadcast came from the Baghdad neighbourhood of Ghazaliya, which until a few months ago was a stronghold for al Qaeda Sunni Islamists. It also came at a time when Sunni communities in many parts of Iraq are taking up arms to drive out the Islamists.
“Now is the time to heal the deep wounds made by this seditiousness and the conflicts that stemmed from this sedition. It is a time for forgiveness,” said Ahmed Abdul-Ghafour al-Samarrai, a Sunni Muslim cleric who led the Friday prayers.
“The time of revenge has gone. I call on each Iraqi person to be a like a doctor and heal the wounds of others because the wounds are deep and the pain is huge and the blood is still flowing,” he said.