Her surname Lewis is a give away in Iraq , making her visible as a Christian. She's Professor Anan Lewis and she teaches Victorian and modern poetry at the English Department of the University of Bagdhad. She's currently in Rome as one of the women auditors at the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East taking place in the Vatican . Veronica Scarisbrick caught up with her outside the Synod Hall and began by asking her to share with us some impressions on the Synod so far:
"...For me it is a very positive step ...to welcome lay people of both genders..so far I have such mixed feelings of hope and doubt ...I do have the hope that after the Synod some strong statements and recommendations are taken into consideration but also I do have some doubts that this would be only a gathering for exchanging ideas and diagnosing the problem without finding some practical solutions for it ...we have started group discussion and things have become more concrete and more concentrated on the essential issues that Christians suffer in the Middle East..."
Professor Lewis also highlighted the plight of Christians in Iraq:
"...We are born in Muslim society so we are accustomed to the culture, to the people and they are familiar living with Christians ..of course everybody knows that in the Middle East the Christians were the original inhabitants, orignal people of the land ..so we've been living together for centuries ...yes we have faced some attacks and persecutions in certain periods of time but both are accustomed to live together in harmony and co-existence with no problems. The problems started to seriously take place...in Iraq after the several wars ..especially the last one. It has become not that easy to be Christian and witness to our faith, we've become targeted..but nevertheless we do believe... that there are external forces that are trying to make clashes and conflicts among Christians and Muslims....and Muslims among themselves... so we are doing frankly our best to live our faith ..though some find it difficult to live as witnesses ...that's why you find so many of them emigrating. Especially after the several attacks on churches and kidnapping and the threats they face from the other religions. It is not easy but I would assure others who are not really familiar with what we are passing .. it is not completely impossible to live as a Christian in Iraq or other part of the Arab homeland ... "
Beyond what it means to be a Christian in Iraq , in this interview Professor Lewis also tells us us about her professional life and what she believes is the meaning of poetry in our modern world . Listen: