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» 03/28/2011
IRAQ
“True democracy in Muslim countries only if Christians are equal citizens,” says Mgr Sako
by Joseph Mahmoud
The archbishop of Kirkuk, Mgr Louis Sako, speaks at a conference organised by Aid to the Church in Need in Würzburg, Germany. Uprisings in Arab countries leave little room for optimism. “I hope things will evolve differently in Iraq,” the bishop says.

Würzburg (AsiaNews) – “Aid to the Church in Need” organised a world conference titled “Welt Kirche in Würzburg”, in Germany on 18-20 March 2011, on the situation of Christians in Muslim counties. Many bishops from Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and Nigeria and elsewhere took part in the event. Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, was among them. He expressed serious concerns about how ‘Jasmine Revolutions’ were developing in many countries of North Africa and the Middle East.

The Chaldean prelate saw few signs of optimism in the events now unfolding in Arab countries, like mass protests and popular unrest, which have front-page in newscasts, newspapers, magazines and websites. The sight of crowds praying or shouting slogans gives the impression of a wave of extremism.

Media are always talking about Islamic parties. Many Muslims want an Islamic state. After the collapse of regime that lacked a direction and vision, questions abound. Will things improve? Will there be security? Who comes next? Who is pushing these masses of young people? Who is funding the movement? I hope things will evolved differently in Iraq.

The bishop described the situation in Iraq, where for the past eight years, “we have lived with different kinds of oppression. Establishing freedom and democracy takes time and education, especially a separation between politics, which is based on interests, and religion, which is based on ideals that cannot be compromised.”

“Democracy cannot function if Islam is not updated. We must work together for a civilian state in which the only criterion is citizenship,” he said.

“In Iraq, the post-Saddam government, and the people, have proclaimed democracy, but democracy cannot be imposed by pushing a magic button. Eight years after the US invasion, we do not have democracy in Iraq. Indeed, we have groups fighting each. Instead of democracy, we have a growing sectarian problem, with expulsions, abductions and attacks.”

“We Christians are at a disadvantage, socially and religiously discriminated. More than half of the country’s Christians have left, but others are leaving as well. The exodus is never-ending. If Islamisation continues, there will be no Christians left. A million Christians used to live here; now 400,000 are left. Christians certainly respect Muslims, but Muslims must also recognise Christians are real citizens, not as second-class citizens. There must be a clear and courageous decision by the state, as well as Muslim authorities.”

In fact, Mgr Sako issued an appeal to Muslim authorities. “It is necessary,” he said, “that Muslim religious leaders get involved in dialogue to build a multicultural and multi-religious society and reduce inter-religious tensions and conflicts so as to build true coexistence. Sectarian and provocative speeches do not help humanity’s development and are contrary to the universal religious message of ‘Peace on earth’.”

“We must work together for a civilian state in which the only criterion is citizenship. The government, police, army, courts and all institutions should uphold the law and maintain order among all citizens.”


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See also
11/22/2012 IRAQ
Power struggle in Kirkuk elicits archbishop's appeal for peace and dialogue
by Joseph Mahmoud
12/16/2009 IRAQ
A policy of “ethnic cleansing” against Christians under way in Mosul, Mgr Sako says
05/10/2007 IRAQ
Christian leaders join in Patriach Delly’s Iraq appeal
01/21/2005 IRAQ
Mosul under Baathist-Islamist control
06/13/2013 IRAQ
Chaldean Synod: revitalising the Christian presence in Iraq and freedom for Syrian bishops
by p. Albert Zarazeer

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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