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    » 10/22/2008, 00.00

    IRAQ

    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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    See also

    23/10/2008 IRAQ
    More violence in Mosul: father and son killed because they were Christian
    Despite the hopes of the government and part of the population, the massacre of Christians continues in Iraq. The killing could be another signal for the Christians to leave the country. Prime minister al Maliki promises to "punish the guilty and their supporters."

    31/05/2008 IRAQ - ITALY
    Archbishop Louis Sako: Do not abandon Iraqi Christians
    The Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk, in Milan to receive the Defensor Fidei prize, asks for increased efforts to help the Christian communities stay in Iraq. Political and diplomatic pressure must be applied to the United States, and to countries that foster Islamisation. But "signs of hope" are also needed: schools, farming and commercial projects to increase employment.

    27/10/2008 IRAQ - VATICAN
    Chaldean bishop: appeal for Mosul, emptied of Christians
    Urged by the appeal of Benedict XVI, Rabban Al Qas, bishop of Ammadiya and Erbil, asks prime minister al Maliki and the American forces to accept responsibility for the violence afflicting Christians, the result of an intolerant fundamentalism that has never been halted. A request to the Islamic world as well, that it condemn what is taking place in Mosul. Tomorrow in Erbil, a meeting of Chaldean bishops and of the Vatican nuncio.

    16/03/2009 IRAQ
    Iraq looks to future with "optimism." Economic crisis feared more than security
    Violence and lack of security are not the main cause of concern. 85% of Iraqis call the current situation "very good or quite good." Sources for AsiaNews confirm the reopening of shops and businesses. The country must promote economic alternatives to oil, like tourism and agriculture.

    06/11/2008 INDONESIA
    Execution of Bali bombers tomorrow. Island on high alert
    The authors of the massacre in 2002 will be killed by firing squad tomorrow at dawn. Indonesian security forces are afraid of terrorist attacks and violent demonstrations, even following the execution of the three Islamic militants. Extraordinary security measures to protect possible targets of attacks in the country.



    Editor's choices

    CHINA – VATICAN
    Global Times: the pope should accept the independence of the Chinese Church



    After 24 hours of silence, China’s media today published excerpts, comments and editorials about Pope Francis’ interview with Asia Times. Although the pope did not address religious issues or Church problems, many saw the interview as an attempt to improve diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican, and advised Francis to accept Mao Zedong’s "three principles of independence" (theology, administration, jurisdiction), which would leave the power to appoint bishops in the hands of the Party. The People's Daily’s Global Times publishes an editorial on the issue.


    INDIA – PHILIPPINES
    Archbishop of Guwahati: In Asia religion is not dying, the faithful take strength from the Eucharist



    Mgr Menamparampil is among the speakers at the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines. He was also a conflict mediator between various ethnic groups. He told AsiaNews about the value of the Congress for the Catholic Church in Asia and how people can bear witness the Gospel today, even amid tensions and violence of those who "hate us." "with the same pain in our hearts that we descend to our depths during a Eucharistic adoration."


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