An Iraqi Cobram imam has expressed his sorrow at the humanitarian crisis unfolding in northern Iraq, and urged non-Muslim Australians to understand that the brutality of Islamic State is not what his religion stands for.
Imam Yassim Alkarawi said the Iraqi community in Cobram is united in its shock at the violent campaign waged by Islamic State in Iraq.
"It is hard for us, for all Iraqis not just my relatives or friends, they are all still Iraqis and there is no difference if they are Muslim or Christian, they are all still our community and we are involved and feel for them," he said.
Yassim, who fled Iraq after being imprisoned in Abu Ghraib prison, said the actions of Islamic State had nothing to do with the religion he practiced.
"This fury is strange to the Islamic religion and it's been established by Saudi leaders, starting with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. They fight in the name of Islam, but they are not Islamic in the right way," Yassim said.
"I believe religion is not fighting, religion is to help people, to keep sight of how God needs us to help each other to live peacefully and to work on the good things, not to fight."
"Hundreds of thousands of people are on the move across Iraq right now," said Ned Colt, a United Nations worker on the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Ned said he had spoken to people who had been through horrific trauma, including a mother who fled from the Islamic State army with her husband and nine children from Mt Sinjar, only for him to be killed as they crossed Syria to the camp.
The Australian army made its first successful emergency air drop of food and water to Iraqis trapped on Mt Sinjar on Thursday.
You may listen to the ABC Ballarat interview with Cobram imam Yassim Alkarawi here (mp3 file)
Australian Army personnel load humanitarian aid bundles at Al Minhad Air Base
Source ABC Ballarat
Image Credit Australian Defence Force
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