Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Appeal To Save Iraq's Christians

The situation of Iraqi Christians has become so dire that Louis Sako, Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, has issued an appeal on behalf of the Iraqi Christians:

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – “In Iraq Christians are dying, the Church is disappearing under continued persecution, threats and violence carried out by extremists who are leaving us no choice: conversion or exile”. This is the urgent appeal sent to AsiaNews by msgr. Louis Sako, Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, while reports arrive of car bombs and the death of Christians in the Kurdish area, until now untouched by the confessional violence.

The bishop who is president of Iraq’s Council of Catholic Churches’ Committee for inter religious dialogue , signed a declaration regarding the “tragic situation of Baghdadis Christians”, denouncing militant groups which under the threat of armed violence ask Christians to convert immediately to Islam or to consign their property and leave the country. The same thing happens in Mosul, but with a different “choice”: pay a monetary tribute to the Jihad if they want to avoid their death.

Bishop Sako have these urgent words to the deaf world:

“We can no longer be silent – explains Msgr. Sako by phone to AsiaNews – we have to remind the world of the importance of the Christian presence in Iraq, for the good of Iraq”. “Christians are one of the oldest constituents of the Iraqi people –he explains in his statement– Since the beginning they have incorporated with its other constituents like the Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Sabea, and Yazedis; playing a pioneering role in the building of the civilization of Iraq. In addition they defended their adherence to the soil and integrity of Iraq courageously and together with their Moslems brothers. Everybody witnesses their loyalty, honesty, wisdom and their desire to live in peace and brotherhood with others. Christians have long lived with Moslems whether Sunnis or Shias in mutual respect and shared the good and the bad days together with them. They have been part of the Islamic culture for the last 14 centuries, by large without problems. Today they want to continue this existence in the spirit of love and under the charter of human rights”.

However in the current situation Christians are targeted as chief conspirators to be exploited or eliminated. They cannot openly profess their faith, the veil is imposed on the women and the crosses are taken down from their churches, threats of kidnappings and extortion weigh heavily over all of them. Msgr Sako lists the violence to which they are submitted on a daily basis: “now a days Christians are suffering in certain areas and cities in Iraq from forced evacuation, rape, kidnap, blackmail, scarring and killing. This unfamiliar behaviour contradicts the Iraqi humanitarian and Islamic morals. Let everybody realize that emptying Iraq of Christians will be disastrous not only for the Christians but for all Iraqis!... Forcing Christians to leave their homes indicates deterioration in the concept of conviviality and furthermore it destroys the cultural, civil and religious mosaic of which Iraq is considered to be the very cradle”.

People ask me how I handle the daily sad news coming from Iraq. I pray and write. Continuous blogging about the plight of the Iraqi Christians has become my mission lately. It's the least I can do living thousands of miles away from Iraq.

If you can spare a minute of your time, please say a little prayer to the Iraqi people.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds me of quite a few historical precedents when Christians have been forcibly moved or killed from an area. The whole situation is horrible.

4/26/2007 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Fayrouz said...

It's getting very bad for Iraqis in general. It's worse for Iraqi Christians because they don't carry arms or retaliate. Think of a whole community of MLK Jrs.

4/26/2007 06:05:00 PM  

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