Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

We Must Protect Iraq’s Christians | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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There seems to be an organized campaign targeting the Christian population of Iraq, which prompted the President of the Chaldean synod, the Archbishop of Kirkuk and Mosul, Louis Sako to remind Iraqis of the words of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) regarding the rights of neighbors towards one another.

In an interview the Archbishop spoke of the importance of protecting Iraq’s Christians, and touched on a serious issue which needs to be addressed. He said ‘What we have seen from the persecution and oppression is that it’s goals are political…those who target us are looking to make gains, either to force us to leave, or force us to ally with parties we do not wish to’. Archbishop Sako added that this violence is conducted behind ‘regional and internal plans which is a part of the chaos intended for Iraq, which regrettably has resulted in it turning into an arena of ethnic cleansing, making the situation complicated and overlapping.’

The question then is who are these parties that want the Iraqi Christians either to join them, or be murdered and displaced? We all know that Al Qaeda’s criminal ideology is as far removed as possible for it to ally itself with Christians, or even grasp the game of politics for that matter.

And as Al Qaeda continues to torture Christians it is important to note that a Shi’ite coalition of MPs has already rejected a draft law which protects the Christian minority. This is strange since Iraq is proud of its Assyrian and Babylonian heritage, and the Iraqi Church associates itself with them, calling itself the Chaldean Church of Babylon. The Shi’ite alliance voted against Article 50 which deals with the representation of minorities in the provincial council, contrary to the promise of Abdulaziz Al Hakim, the new law was incomplete and disruptive giving only the minimum of political rights to the Iraqi minorities, like the Chaldean Christians.

This is a strange paradox since it was Saddam Hussein’s regime that suppressed the powerful, but did not concern itself with minorities, while the first thing the democratic Iraq of today did was to disregard the rights of the minorities who do not carry arms, and are not affiliated with a particular clan or tribe to defend them.

Archbishop Sako confirmed that ‘Christians in Iraq do not have militias or tribes to defend them’ and added ‘I feel a sense of pain and injustice because innocent people are being killed and we do not know why. We cannot put together an armed force to protect us because this will not solve the problem, only exasperate it’.

The targeting of minorities, including the Iraqi Christians, will mean Iraq’s disintegration and a breach of its internal structure, culturally, and politically, and who can guarantee that the matter will end with minorities, and moreover the targeting of minorities will open the gates of hell, which could easily be done, but not undone.

It is remarkable when taking into account the words of the Archbishop regarding the results of this aggressive oppression. He said ‘the population of Christians before 2003 was around eight hundred thousand, but the targeted violence against the Christian population in Mosul, Kirkuk, Baghdad and Basra has led to a mass-migration of some two hundred and fifty thousand. While the death-toll from the campaign of explosions, kidnappings and murder, targeted against the churches of Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk has led to the deaths of over two hundred’.

It is the duty of all Iraqis and not just its government, to protect the Iraqi Christians from murder and displacement, and all forms of oppression, particularly when taking into account that they have always been patriots and have never been apart of any alliance against their nation, and moreover they suffer more then any other Christian demographic in the Middle East.