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    » 12/16/2009, 00.00

    IRAQ

    A policy of “ethnic cleansing” against Christians under way in Mosul, Mgr Sako says



    The archbishop of Kirkuk says security measures will be strengthened during Christmas for fear of new attacks. Two attacks are carried out in Mosul yesterday; two churches are hit, one baby girl is dead and 40 people are wounded. Source tells AsiaNews that the Christian community is “destined to die” in the city.
    Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – A policy of “ethnic and religious cleansing” is underway in Mosul; in fact, it has worsened as Christmas approaches, Mgr Louis Sako told AsiaNews. For the archbishop of Kirkuk, this means that “security measures must be strengthened or the holiday season”. Meanwhile, tensions and fear are palpable in the city, made worse by a new attack against two places of worship, killing one person and wounding 40 more. A Christian source, anonymous for security reasons, said that the “community is destined to die”.

    In the late morning, a car bomb exploded in front of the Church of the Annunciation in the al- Mohandiseen neighbourhood, damaging walls and windows. The attackers also threw grenades against the nearby Christian school, killing a baby girl and injuring 40 more people, including five high school kids. Saad Younes, father of the 8-day-old child, said that the blast occurred when his daughter and sister-in-law were leaving the nearby hospital.

    A second attack targeted the Syro-Catholic Church of the Immaculate in al-Shifaa, a neighbourhood in northern Mosul. An explosive device went off in the street in front of the building’s gate. No one was killed or injured.

    Yesterday’s attacks are the latest episodes in a series of violence against Christian places of worship. On 26 November, terrorists razed to the ground the Church of Saint Ephrem and the Mother House of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine. A source told AsiaNews that most nuns left; only a few have remained but “are afraid of going out”.

    Such attacks are a “warning” for Christians to leave en masse. Many “families have fled north, into Kurdistan, but are jobless and have no hope for the future. The Christian community is destined to die,” the source said.

    Mgr Louis Sako shares this concern. For the archbishop of Kirkuk, “ethnic and religious cleansing” is underway in Mosul. The central government and parties are concerned only about the elections, scheduled for 7 March 2010, especially about “sharing the oil”.

    The city’s political situation is complex. Arabs control local power; Kurds do not participate in the municipal council; and there is a strong presence of fundamentalist groups and members of Saddam Hussein’s old regime.

    “The situation is very tense,” Mgr Sako said. “Just last week to Christian brothers were killed and two more were abducted. Where was the local government? And the Central government? Where are the representatives of the ruling parties?” the prelate asked.

    Nevertheless, he said he hopes to see the Christian community achieve greater cohesion within to build a “strong power base” that can reject violence.

    For the prelate, one possible response is for “Churches and Christian parties to make a strong statement, reiterating their steadfastness, and their commitment to Iraq, peace and coexistence between ethnic groups and religions. [. . .] To destroy this mosaic is to destroy Iraq,” he said. (DS)

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    See also

    10/05/2007 IRAQ
    Christian leaders join in Patriach Delly’s Iraq appeal
    The Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Syrian-Orthodox Bishop of Aleppo said they were “moved” by the Chaldean Patriarch’s condemnation of Christian persecution in Iraq. They have urged Baghdad, the UN and international forces to “extinguish the flames in which all Iraqis are burning”. Mgr Gregotios Yohanna Ibrahim: “A plan is afoot to change the country’s social structure.”

    09/07/2009 IRAQ
    Attacks are isolated episodes to destabilise a country on its way to rebirth, Iraqi bishops say
    The situation is improving but ethnic and confessional divisions remain; they are an obstacle on the path of peace. Three attacks hit northern Iraq and the capital, killing 40 and wounding another 80. Tomorrow a group of 19 children will celebrate their first communion. The archbishop of Kirkuk calls on political leaders to show “political maturity” ahead of provincial elections.

    23/12/2009 IRAQ
    Mosul attacks on two Christian churches, three dead and several injured
    The Chaldean Church of St. George and Syriac Orthodox Church of St. Thomas hit. One bomb was hidden in a cart carrying vegetables. The explosion kills a Chaldean Christian and two Muslim. Archbishop of Kirkuk: "disturbing message" to two days before Christmas.

    07/08/2015 IRAQ
    For Mar Sako, one year after the Mosul tragedy, only unity and reconciliation can save Iraq
    On the first anniversary of the great exodus from the Nineveh Plain, the Chaldean Patriarch addresses a letter to Iraq’s government and parliament. In it, he denounces the difficult conditions in which Christians and Yezidis still live, as well as the thousands of deaths among Muslims. Peace is the only response to the violence of extremist groups who "exploit religion".

    13/10/2008 IRAQ
    Arab media “discover” the persecution of Christians in Mosul as another Christian is killed
    Another store owner is killed. Pope’s words are echoed in Arab newspapers as the city’s archbishop, Mgr Louis Sako, slams the attacks. Some claim that Iraqi Christians are no more in danger than the average Iraqis. Others insist that all Iraqis have a duty to protect Christians.



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