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Welby tells White to leave Baghdad

10 October 2014


Dangers: Canon White speaks to reporters in the heavily-fortified green zone, Baghdad, in 2006

Dangers: Canon White speaks to reporters in the heavily-fortified green zone, Baghdad, in 2006

THE ministry of Canon Andrew White to the Anglican community in Baghdad has become a victim - for the time being at least - of the Islamic State (IS) surge in the country.

Canon White, the Chaplain of St George's, Baghdad, is now in Jerusalem, after leaving Baghdad on the advice of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

"Sadly, things are not looking good for an imminent return to Baghdad," he wrote on Facebook on Sunday. "My dear friend the Archbishop of Canterbury has made clear that my profile is so high, I am British, and very pro-Israel, which would place me at incredibly high risk should IS get near Baghdad. At the moment they are not, but who knows what could happen. This will mean that I will not be able to return to Baghdad yet."

In an interview with Premier Christian Radio on Tuesday, Canon White described himself as "really stupid. . . I have no concept of fear. I'm not frightened of anything; so I have to listen to people who are wiser and more sensible than me, like the Archbishop of Canterbury."

Canon White said that Archbishop Welby had taken "the right decision. There is no guarantee that I will be safe. There is no guarantee that Baghdad won't fall. At the moment, it is in the hands of the Iraqi government; but, if it did fall, and I was there, I would fall as well - or my head would. God often talks to us through other people, and God is saying to me: 'Get out, you idiot.'"

Canon White said that most of all he would miss the young people of Baghdad. "I'm really going to miss my youth, my young people, my children. That's what I'll really be in tears about."

He reported on Facebook that, during his absence from Iraq, he would "concentrate more of my effort on Gaza and Palestine, for that is what I feel God wants me to do. I love the Palestinians just as much as I do the Israelis, and they so need our help."

Canon White, who was diagnosed 16 years ago as suffering from multiple sclerosis, left Iraq for a time in 2007, after threats to his life. Since then, however, he has repeatedly expressed his determination to remain at his post, despite the mounting dangers.

Question of the Week - Is military action against IS just?

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