By Tricia Khutoretsky, IARP Curator
In early May, I took an overnight trip to Kimballton, Iowa on behalf of the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project to install a special exhibit for the New Century Art Guild. NCAG is a 501c(3) non-profit organization that promotes the growth of artistic culture and development of art-related careers in the Midwest, especially those of military veterans wishing to make new careers in visual art. The organization supports three buildings that feature over 4000 square feet of studio and gallery space located on the Main Street of Kimballton, Iowa.
From IARP Executive Director Kathy McKay’s article in the May 2014 Reconciliation Report newsletter:
The work of reconciliation takes many forms. Fostering connections between civilians in the US and civilians in Iraq is one of the ways at IARP that we work toward better understanding between the people of our two countries.
It is through the collective effort of volunteers, interns, contract employees, Board members, donors and email readers from both countries that opinions change, new ideas form, positive curiosities are aroused, and friends are made.
“Prophets, Patriarchs, and People of Promise: Jesus”
On Sunday, April 27, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. the Muslim Christian Dialogue Series will discuss the life of Jesus as situated in both Islam and Christianity. Local leaders presenting and moderating are Owais Bayunus, interfaith program director for the Islamic Center of Minnesota, and Dan Collison, Senior Pastor of First Covenant Church, Minneapolis. Both have extensive experience and involvement in their local and religious communities. RSVP here.
Date: April 27, 2014
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Islamic Center of Minnesota, Fridley, MN
The Muslim Christian Dialogue series has provided a peaceful space for various faiths to participate in monthly discussions in the Twin Cities for 25 years. For more information about this event and others, please visit their site or call 612-870-3600.
By Kathy McKay, Executive Director
This article was originally requested by Friends for a Nonviolent World, a Minnesota state-wide peace and justice organization, and also is appearing in FNVW’s Nonviolent Times Newsletter, Winter 2014.
In 2012, during the most active months of the Arab Spring in the Middle East, as protests swept across the countries of Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen, so also were Iraqi activists marching in Baghdad. Each Friday, after prayer, they were not marching to overthrow their relatively new, duly elected government. They were marching to hold their elected officials more accountable and their focus was threefold:
1. To repair and replace the electrical grid to provide constant reliable power.
2. To repair the water treatment plants and delivery systems to provide accessible clean water.
3. To root out government corruption at all levels, especially in Baghdad.
The basic tenets of a civil society are to be found in a democracy to which people are entitled, one respectful of its citizens and responsible for their safety. This democracy should include orderly services, a well-maintained infrastructure and public education for all. These expectations are universal.
The Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has not met these demands. While citizens of Najaf report more hours of electricity available during the day, there has been no significant improvement in the availability of clean water to households.
The following is a brief excerpt from a speech given by Dr. Terry Nichols at the University of St. Thomas on March 3, 2014. Dr. Nichols is co-director of the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center and has been a quiet giant in the community supporting dialogue and understanding between Muslims and Christians. For more information on Dr. Nichols or the Dialogue Center, click here. To read the full speech, click here.
Good Evening! My lecture tonight concerns the hope of Muslim Christian dialogue, and perhaps the best place to start is to clarify what we mean by Muslim Christian dialogue. In fact, there are several forms of dialogue. The document Dialogue and Proclamation, issued by The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in 1991, lists four types of dialogue. They describe these as follows:
“The dialogue of life, where people strive to live in an open and neighborly spirit, sharing their joys and sorrows, their human problems and preoccupations. The dialogue of action, in which Christians and others collaborate for the integral development and liberation of people. The dialogue of theological exchange, where specialists seek to deepen their understanding of their respective religious heritages, and to appreciate each other’s spiritual values. The dialogue of religious experience, where persons rooted in their own religious traditions, share their spiritual riches, for instance with regard to prayer and contemplation, faith and ways of searching for God or the Absolute.”
March 2014 Reconciliation Report: From the Start of a Sister City Relationship to Mayor of Minneapolis
From the March, 2014 Reconciliation Report:
On a warm summer day in 2008 a handful of citizens were ushered into the small meeting room of Minneapolis City Council Member, Betsy Hodges. On the agenda was discussion of a possible Sister City relationship with Najaf, Iraq. Marie Braun, Kate Fournier, Sami Rasouli, Professor Sara Axtell and myself were included in the group.
Through background provided by Lauren Maker of the City Coordinator’s office, Councilperson Hodges was prepared. She said “Yes, I think this is a good idea. I will sponsor this resolution.” In the summer of 2009 the Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed the resolution declaring Minneapolis’ intent to enter into its 10th Sister City relationship. The corresponding affirmation was received from Najaf Province and so it was!
Each year we have celebrated the connection between Minneapolis and Najaf with visitors, art shows and academic exchanges. In November of 2013 we were elated to celebrate with Ms. Hodges her election to be Mayor of the City of Minneapolis. As a consistent enthusiast of our Sister City relationship we look forward to even more celebrations and visits that will include Mayor Hodges.
To read the full March, 2014 Reconciliation Report newsletter, click here.
The Reconciliation Report is a periodic e-newsletter sent out by IARP. To sign up for the newsletter, click here.
Iraqi lawyer Suaad Allami recently wrote an article on the current status of women’s rights in Iraq. To read the full article on CNN iReport, click here.
“The last US troops left Iraq December 18, 2011, leaving 4,485 military dead, billions spent and democratic ideals floated including uncountable women’s rights initiatives. There have been modest gains for Iraqi women but there is little actual progress and even less protection for women despite the glossy legislative protections spurred by the US State Department. More powerful and pervasive cultural and religious forces continue to contravene women’s equality, neuter women’s rights as a toothless slogan, and dwarf the Rule of Law mindset we tried hard to instill…”
by Helen Benedict
March 16–April 6, 2014, The History Theater, St. Paul, MN
The stories of soldiers on the front lines of American’s most recent wars are unlike any that came before – especially for women in uniform. This provocative and timely play by award-winning author Helen Benedict, is based on interviews with soldiers stationed on the front lines in Iraq; these are the real words of eight battle-tested women warriors recounting their experiences on battlefield and in the barracks, and their personal journeys toward recovery and justice. Honest, heartfelt, and current, this play directed by Austene Van, opens the door for conversations about war, gender, and the challenges facing the next generation of American soldiers.
Enjoyed most by ages 16+
IARP Show Night: March 20
Join us for the 8:00 pm show on Thursday, March 20 and stay to meet the actors! Reserve your tickets for just $22 by emailing info@
Please join us at the Daily Iraqi Life Art Exhibit, open September 9-30th, 8AM-8PM, to observe and understand the connection the St. Paul/Minneapolis community maintains with our sister city of Najaf, Iraq and local Iraqi refugees.