A Londoner who discovered that the Muslim new year 1438 coincided with the Jewish new year 5777 has received thousands of positive messages — and an offer from the leader of the most important of Sunni tribes to work with Jews.
Iraqi-born Edwin Shuker made a three-minute video to wish Muslims a happy new year and posted it on his Facebook page. The result was astonishing: thousands of views since he first posted on October 2.
He had another intention — to urge Iraqis to be aware of the parlous state of the country’s Jewish sites and holy places. Shuker was inspired to make his appeal when he heard that the home of Sir Sasson Heskel, Iraq’s first finance minister, had been destroyed. In fact Sir Sasson owned two homes and his main residence, the legendary House of Dreams, remains standing.
In his video, Shuker, who has been back to Iraq many times since the fall of Saddam Hussein, says: “We left Iraq by force, but Iraq has never left our hearts for a single moment. I do indeed express here my personal opinion, but I am sure that the words express the affection of the members of my community and longing for the homeland and for its rebuilding.
“This community lived more than 2, 600 years on this soil and has contributed greatly to the culture. But this community recently fell victim to the policy of division and sectarianism. It hurts to see this rich social fabric, a colourful carpet, threatened by the loss of its diversity. ”
Among the thousands of positive responses was one from a Sunni sheikh who offered to cooperate and make further contacts with Jews. “Great people are the ones who make history,” he wrote. “I notice that you are a patriot … I am willing to go out on this mission with you and to send a message of affection, co-operation, tolerance and a handshake without hesitation or fear. “