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    » 03/28/2011, 00.00

    IRAQ

    “True democracy in Muslim countries only if Christians are equal citizens,” says Mgr Sako

    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

    22/11/2012 IRAQ
    Power struggle in Kirkuk elicits archbishop's appeal for peace and dialogue
    Tensions are running high between the central government and the Kurdish administration. Baghdad rushes troops to the city to keep in check the peshmerga. Clashes are reported south of the city. Mgr Sako talks about the civilian plight, asking for "security and stability". He also urges political leaders to be "messengers of peace".

    16/12/2009 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.

    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.”

    21/01/2005 IRAQ
    Mosul under Baathist-Islamist control


    13/06/2013 IRAQ
    Chaldean Synod: revitalising the Christian presence in Iraq and freedom for Syrian bishops
    This is the thrust of the paper that marked the end of the meeting held in Baghdad on 5-10 June. The Fathers call for the creation of a "competent" Christian political class, urging the faithful to be "a bridge between cultures." The Synod also stressed the importance of the ecumenical movement and calls for an "honest dialogue" with the Assyrian Church of the East. It issues special thanks to Pope Francis.



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