SAT-7 BROADCASTS POPE’S HISTORIC VISIT TO IRAQ
Today, SAT-7 is broadcasting live the first ever pontifical visit to Iraq 5-8 March. The historic visit is expected to bring hope and consolation to many people in war-torn Iraq and across the diaspora.
In a few hours, Iraqis will welcome Pope Francis to Iraq, a country where Christians face discrimination, persecution, and forced displacement. The much-awaited visit of the 266th Vatican pontiff despite the coronavirus pandemic is a historic visit and a sign of hope for Christians in the region.
“This is a dream come true,” shares George Makeen, SAT-7 Arabic IO Programming Director. “Before Pope Francis, Pope Benedict, and John Paul II promised and tried to visit Iraq, but they never managed,” he explains. “The fact that we have this great man of God so determined to make the visit in the midst of the current pandemic, rising violence, and instability in Iraq is so assuring.”
“Pope Francis recognizes the significance of his presence in a country that is war-torn, where Christians and other religious minorities suffered greatly and where religious violence is still claiming so many lives,” Makeen says. “He is there to proclaim a message of peace and reconciliation, something we hold dear and core to the good news we proclaim. It shows the role of the church in seeking the best of every human,” Makeen adds.
Pope Francis will visit Iraq on Friday 5th of March and return on Monday 8th of March. His visit will include meeting with civil and religious authorities as well as visiting and holding prayers in various cities including Najaf, Baghdad, the historic site at the Plain of Ur, Erbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh.
Father Hani Bakhoum, Spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Egypt, expects the Pope’s visit to bear fruit. “His Holiness’s visit has many dimensions including supporting the Catholic congregation in Iraq morally, strengthening the ecumenical relationship between the different churches in that country, and on the dialogue between religions. His visit gathers all people around him and strengthens human brotherhood,” he comments.
Believed to be the origin of ancient human civilization and the homeland of Abraham, venerated by Christians, Muslims and Jews, Iraq is now at the center of the world’s attention thanks to Pope Francis’ visit.
SUPPORTING VIEWERS IN IRAQ
Broadcasting a message of hope across the Middle East and North Africa, supporting viewers via special programs, and supporting them through Audience Relations teams, SAT-7 has also produced programs specifically for Iraqi audiences. Among these was SAT-7 ARABIC program Women and Wars, featuring stories of women who fled from Iraq. The channel also produced a documentary about Iraqi refugees in Jordan featuring their struggles and sharing their testimonies of faith amid deprivation and forced immigration.
Furthermore, SAT-7 KIDS made three visits to Iraq and interviewed families in refugee camps in Erbil. The channel followed the story of a young girl named Miriam who shared a message of forgiveness to ISIS on SAT-7, which went viral in 2015. A follow up documentary of Miriam’s return home to Qaraqosh in Iraq, was filmed in 2019.