Students to Mourn Losses on 6th Anniversary of Iraq Invasion

LONDON – Staff and students at the Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education and St. Francis Hall at the University of Birmingham will hold a special service of lamentation on Friday to mark the sixth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war.

The event will take place outside Council House in Victoria square. The names of both British and Iraqi casualties will be read along with passages from the Bible.

The readings will then be followed by a slow walk up and down New Street, with placards to lament the loss of life caused by the conflict.

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"It is great that some of our students care enough to get out on to the street to mark the sixth year of the war and to help the community to grieve," Kara Cooper, chaplain at St. Francis Hall said, according to Ekklesia.

Organizers have stressed that the march is not political in nature and is simply about mourning for those killed in the conflict.

Professor John Hull of the Foundation said, "We are not saying anything about the rights or wrongs of the war. We are lamenting the loss of life over these six years of sorrow."

The Rev. Dr. Knut Heim, tutor in Old Testament studies at the Queen's Foundation, also commented, "In Biblical times people knew how to make lamentation but today we seem to have mostly forgotten how to do this. This ceremony makes use of an ancient Christian ritual to express the grief of the community at the loss of life."

The Iraq war began on March 20, 2003, when a U.S.-led coalition invaded the country to topple the regime of the dictator Saddam Hussein. British forces have mainly been operating in the south of the country in Basra, but their role has gradually been scaled down.

There are currently around 4,100 British troops operating in Iraq. Since operations began, 179 British personnel have died in the conflict.

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