The Peacemaking Barbers of Baghdad

Peacemaking, to me, is anything that closes the gap between two estranged or opposing groups. I love how broad that definition is because it makes room for creativity. It means that with a little bit of brainstorming, we can use nearly anything to make peace.

Like these barbers in Baghdad who decided their scissors and clippers were perfect peacemaking tools.

Most of the barbers are Muslim, but they live close to a refugee camp for Iraqi Christians. The families who live in this camp were displaced by ISIS and many of them suffered tremendously under the extremist group, which brutally targeted religious minorities.

Virgin Mary Refugee Camp, Baghdad. Image by FRRME, used with permission.

They are low on resources, so spending money on haircuts just isn’t possible for many of them.

Seeing an opportunity to build a bridge between often estranged communities, these barbers decided to take a step toward their Christian neighbors and help them out. Once a month, they show up at the camp and give free haircuts to whoever needs one. They chat, laugh, build relationships, and through that process, they help these families heal.

Each snip of their scissors and buzz from their clippers tells these Christian families that they are welcome and wanted in Iraq. That their Muslim neighbors are for them and want them to thrive.

The Peacemaking Barbers of Baghdad. Image by FRRME, used with permission

Small things like this help close the gap between groups that otherwise tend to be separated from one another. And that’s exactly what peacemaking is: taking a step toward someone and extending your hand, inviting them to take a step toward you. The simplicity of it creates safety, inclusion, and a sense of solidarity. There is no hidden agenda. It sees people and reaches out to them in love and recognition of our mutual humanity.

If these barbers in Baghdad can figure out how to make peace with their clippers and scissors, surely the rest of us can figure out how to make peace with what we’ve got.

Maybe you love to bake, write, build, garden, paint, hike, or clean. Whatever it is, do some brainstorming to figure out how you can use it to take a step toward the Other this week.

Let us know how it goes…

Peacemaker Fridays are published weekly to share stories of people unmaking violence around the world. Be inspired. Take Action.

This story and all images were graciously shared by our friends at FRRME.