This is a first for a French president. Emmanuel Macron spent nearly two hours, Friday, August 28, around midnight, in a famous Shiite shrine in Baghdad, in the company of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, 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 travel to Mosul, a Sunni city devastated by ISIS, where he will also meet with Christian communities.
But to mark his desire to address all faiths in Iraq, which share power, he decided to go first to the shrine of Al-Kadhimiya, an important place of pilgrimage for the Shiites, who houses the mausoleum where the seventh Twelver Imam is buried.
The long procession of cars leading the two leaders and their delegation arrived on Saturday around 11 p.m. in a crowded street, lined with colorful displays and illuminated signs, at the end of which stand the imposing golden domes of the sanctuary. .
Walking towards the monument, arm in arm, the two men, after having like all visitors removed their shoes, found themselves on the esplanade in the middle of a very animated crowd, who jostled to approach the leader Iraqi, a native Shiite from the neighborhood.
In a mob that gave their two security services a hard time, they visited the mausoleum room and the library, which houses ancient manuscripts. Among the French delegation were notably Jack Lang and Mr.gr Gollnisch, who defends the Christians of the East.
Fight against ISIS
The French president was greeted 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 the Islamic State organization, at the call of the Shiites, had mobilized Iraqis of all faiths.
This visit to a Shia shrine is, “I believe, a first for a French president”, underlined Mr. Macron – allusion to the fact that France is traditionally ally of the 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 reporters, 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 Yazidis, it was important that I could also be alongside the Shiite community ”, he concluded.