by Jeremy Courtney, special to CNN
(CNN) –We had no idea what we were doing, so we helped everyone. My wife and I moved to Iraq in 2007 to assist in relief and development. We have since made friends on all sides, deep behind “enemy lines.”Since the fall of Mosul to Sunni militants in June, the world has struggled to accept the failure of the American project in Iraq, the rise of “political Islam” and the marking of Iraqi Christians and other minorities for death or expropriation.
The world may watch from afar and denounce all Iraqi Muslims as militants bent on conquest. But up close, the reality is very different.
It was a Muslim cleric who may have saved this Christian’s life. And I’m not the only one. Even as jihadists justify their atrocities in the name of Islam, millions of Muslims are standing in solidarity with Christians who have been expelled from their homes.
In Najaf, displaced Christians are being housed in the most revered holy site in Shia Islam. Sunnis, Shia, and Christians worship side by side in Baghdad, praying for the peace and future of Iraq.
Our first six months in Iraq were difficult. The lack of electricity and water, the drive-by shootings, the explosions that more than rattled our windows — they shook our souls. It wasn’t until we began helping a little girl who needed lifesaving heart surgery that we could drive back the gripping fear. Working with her father to save her life injected meaning into an otherwise confusing conflict. Soon after, word began to spread that we were helping “last chance children” who had been rejected by the other humanitarian aid organizations. The larger organizations looked at pediatric heart surgery and saw nothing but risk.
We spent tens of thousands of dollars sending children outside the country to Israel and Turkey for surgery. Soon Sunnis and Shia, Kurds and Christians were lining up in our office in search of hope. One day in a hotel lobby I bumped into a Muslim cleric decked out in robes and headdress and found myself fumbling for words. We had been taught to fear these types of clerics. They were supposed to be the crazies who promoted suicide bombings and sectarianism.
But that wasn’t the case with Sheikh Ali. For the full article go to: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/08/05/learning-to-love-the-enemy-in-iraq/?hpt=hp_c2