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Iranian Bishop prays for Iran and the West not to seek revenge

by Ruth Sax
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Diocese of Leicester

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called his country's missile strike on US targets in Iraq a "slap in the face" for the US and said Washington's troops must leave the region.

Khamenei's televised remarks on Wednesday came hours after the missiles were fired at the Ain al-Assad base in Anbar province and a facility in Erbil amid escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran following the US assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq last week.

The Bishop of Loughborough, Rt Rev Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani is Iranian and moved to the UK as a refugee in 1980, she told the BBC's Radio 4 Thought for the Day programme that she is "acutely aware" of the "best and worst" that her country of birth has to offer.

"I'm not going to justify or defend the politics of Iran nor of anywhere else. But as the world holds its breath to see what happens as a result of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani I want to offer two simple thoughts. First, there is more to Iran than meets the eye. Long before the rise of western civilizations, Iran was contributing on a global scale to advances in medicine, architecture, literature, poetry, philosophy and the sciences. The impact of these achievements goes deep and lives on in the conscience and experiences of Iranians today. Secondly, memory is a powerful thing which can be utilised for good, or for ill.

"My hope and prayer is that ongoing responses in Iran and the West to the death of General Soleimani will draw, not on traditions of violence and revenge but on the best traditions of East and West. For me as an Iranian and a Christian these are reflected in Iran's poetry, its rich culture and in the worship of the magi at the feet of the Christ child."

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