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Oddly Enough - Reuters
Baghdad Draws Peaceniks of All Shapes and Sizes
Fri Feb 21, 8:35 AM ET
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By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - What do a priest, Miss Germany, a spiritual healer and a diehard communist all have in common?
They have made their way to Baghdad to try to stop a U.S.-led war on Iraq, employing various skills and talents, ranging from diplomacy to spiritual healing, soccer to fashion.
Baghdadis, who have not seen such a diverse influx of foreigners for many a year, are both amused and bemused.
"I am a Reiki master, look it up on the Internet," said Peter van Dyke, who drove a London cab to Baghdad with another 100 "human shields" following in double decker buses.
"It is through achieving higher knowledge or spiritual consciousness, or rei, that we are able to properly guide our life energy, ki, to create positive results and affect positive and personal and global change," declares the one Web Site devoted to the reiki healing technique.
Mainstream spirituality has also made its presence felt. Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, special envoy of Pope John Paul (news - web sites) II, met with President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) last week to try to avert war.
Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of Russia's Communist Party, saw Saddam on Wednesday.
Rudulpho Tucci is an Italian farmer from Anzio who teamed up with a Canadian housewife to found the Bridges to Baghdad group.
Tucci is pursuing peace with his dog, a Saint Bernard.
German pacifists have recruited brains and beauty to the cause. Miss Germany arrives on Thursday and is due to hold a press conference at al-Rashid hotel, which has been bursting at the seams with a bizarre crowd of journalists and celebrities.
Spanish pacifists chose football to spread their message, playing the Mustansiryah University team and drawing 5-5.
"It does not matter what team one is on. We are all here to say no to war," said Franc Emilia.
Not to be outdone, the Iraqis showed they too have style. The Iraqi Fashion House staged a show on Wednesday with models displaying costumes inspired by five civilizations that inhabited Mesopotomia before Christ.
"We convey history and we do it enthusiastically," said Hanan, one of the models to the background beat of Babylonian music.
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