A first for a French president, Emmanuel Macron spent nearly two hours on Friday around midnight in a famous Shiite shrine in Baghdad, in the company of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Moustafa al-Kazimi, where he received a warm welcome.
This night visit marked his first day in Iraq, after a regional conference focused on the fight against terrorism. He took off just after for Iraqi Kurdistan, from where he will go to Mosul, a Sunni city devastated by Daesh, where he will also meet Christian communities. To mark his desire to address all faiths in Iraq, which share power, he decided to go first to al-Kadhimiya shrine, an important place of pilgrimage for the Shiites, which is home to the mausoleum where the 7th Twelver Imam is buried.
The fight against Daesh evoked
In a crowd that gave a hard time to their two security services, Emmanuel Macron and Moustafa al-Kazimi visited the mausoleum room and the library, which houses ancient manuscripts. Among the French delegation were in particular Jack Lang and Mgr Gollnisch, who defends the Christians of the East.
The French president was greeted warmly by an Ayatollah who told him the history of the library as well as by officials of the complex, who reminded him that the fight against Daesh, at the call of the Shiites, had mobilized Iraqis from all faiths.
“A way to learn and understand”
This visit to a Shiite sanctuary is “I believe a first for a French president,” stressed Emmanuel Macron – an allusion to the fact that France is traditionally an ally of Sunni leaders. “It’s a sign of recognition. It is a way of learning and understanding. I think with humility that if we want to be able to act usefully in this region, it is better to understand it, it is a universe of complexity ”, he said in front of journalists, while visiting the site.
“We have just made an important conference and France is keen to recognize all the components of this people and tomorrow I will be alongside the Dominicans, the Sunnis, the Yazidies, it was important that I could also be at the side of the Shiite community, ”he concluded.