10/22/2008, 00.00
IRAQ
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Chaldean bishop of Kirkuk: Christians being driven out of Mosul for political reasons

The prelate launches an appeal, calling upon all to defend the minorities in Iraq, and the Christian minority, the target of many attacks, especially in Mosul. For the bishop, the Christians are victims of a political game connected to the upcoming elections, and to the project for a Christian enclave in the plain of Nineveh. An appeal to the Christians of the West as well, that they denounce every act of violence and to demonstrate solidarity and fellowship.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - Since the beginning of October, Mosul has seen yet another wave of violence against Christians. The city and the community of the faithful have already paid a high price in blood in the past, with the killing of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, Fr. Ragheed Gani, and dozens of others. Mosul, a multiethnic city, is inhabited by Christians of various confessions, Sunnis and Shiites, Yazidi, Arabs, Turkmen, and Kurds. These killings of a confessional nature make coexistence increasingly difficult, and are increasing the accusations between the Kurdish government, responsible for order in Mosul, and the central government. Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, wanted to share with the readers of AsiaNews his concerns about these events.

What is happening in Mosul? How can this constant carnage be defined? In one week, there have been 12 deaths; 1,000 families have left their homes for villages in the plane of Nineveh; 5 homes have been destroyed in explosions. Fear, solitude, and apprehension dominate the Christian minority. The memory of Dora [1] has not disappeared in Baghdad. If the situation continues in this way, Christians will be forced to a new "mass emigration."

But the attacks in Mosul have a special character: they do not seem to be connected to gangs of criminals, because this time they are not asking for any ransom. It is possible that there are fundamentalists behind the killings. But how can the indifference of the local and central authorities be explained when a vehicle with a loudspeaker is driven around the neighborhood of Sukkar, ordering the Christians to leave?

I think that there is a political motive behind all this violence.

This campaign to drive out the Christians could conceal benefits of a political nature ahead of the upcoming elections in January of 2009, and the controversy over the approval of the provincial election law. The current law eliminates the quota reserved by tradition for Christians (and other minorities). Intimidating them and driving them out goes hand in hand with denying them representation. But the hypothesis cannot be excluded that the violence against the faithful also serves to reinforce the proposal for a Christian enclave in the plane of Nineveh.

We forcefully ask for government intervention to protect all Iraqis in difficulty, but above all the Christians, who are currently the most vulnerable. This is also a responsibility of the forces of occupation.

We are calling for the intervention of the international community to protect the minorities in Iraq, especially in the upcoming provincial elections. And we ask with particular urgency for the intervention of the United Nations and the European Union, that they call upon the Baghdad government to respect minorities in the upcoming elections.

The Iraqi parliament has approved a law that does not recognize the rights of minorities. This will lead to the definitive destruction of ethnic and religious minorities in this country, and will accelerate the exodus of the Christians.

We ask the Christians of the West not to be concerned solely about stock markets and the economy, but to denounce every form of violence and demonstrate solidarity and fellowship with us.

[1] Dora is a Baghdad neighborhood where in recent years there have been killings of Christians, abductions of faithful and priests, and attacks on churches. This violence has led to the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people. Greater security was restored after the "surge" by the American and Iraqi military.

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