Urgent call to US and Iran to 'de-escalate' crisis after Soleimani assassination

Published 14 January 2020  |  
(Photo: Reuters)
Huge crowds turned out for Qasem Soleimani's funeral in Tehran

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) has issued an urgent appeal to the US and Iran to "resist hostile rhetoric and to de-escalate the current crisis".

In a statement, WEA Secretary General Bishop Efraim Tendero called for dialogue between the US and Iran to prevent a deterioration in the situation.

He urged the two countries to seek reconciliation and called on the global evangelical community to express their views about the situation in a way that "does not demean, denigrate or de-humanize" others.

He further warned that Christians in Iraq stand to suffer as a result of the crisis.

"The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) deeply grieves the recent acts of aggression and violence between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Iraq," he said.

"The WEA calls on the leaders of these countries, and their allies, to resist hostile rhetoric and to de-escalate the current crisis.

"We encourage dialogue that prevents further crises and leads to the removal of sanctions which disproportionally impact civilians."

The call follows a week of turmoil in the Middle East triggered by the US assassination of Iran's top military leader Qasem Soleimani. At his funeral on Monday, dozens of mourners were killed in a stampede.

Then on Wednesday, a passenger jet that crashed outside Tehran with no survivors is believed by Western powers to have been shot down by a missile.

Bishop Tendero continued, "Guided by our belief that each human bears the image of God and enjoys inherent dignity, and pursuant to our scriptural responsibility to be ambassadors of reconciliation, we further call on all citizens worldwide, especially evangelicals, to express political and ideological differences in a manner that does not demean, denigrate or de-humanize.

"The violence playing out in Iraq further threatens the presence of Christians in the country, whose numbers since 2003 have drastically dwindled.

"The protection of Christians and other religious communities in Iraq requires active support for peace and stability from the international community, and puts an onus on the United States and Iran to pursue de-escalation and dialogue."

He ended with a call for prayer that leaders in Iraq, Iran and the US "might seek and possess peaceable wisdom from above, leading to the path of peace".

"We pray also that this discernment might include de-escalation of conflict, dialogue and the re-establishment of trust, and an end to the cycles of violence and death that beset the Middle East," he said.

"Through prayer and peacemaking, we will continue to work for peace on earth, as it is in heaven."

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