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    » 06/12/2014, 00.00

    IRAQ

    Archbishop of Mosul: anarchy in the city; Muslims defend churches from assaults and raids



    Armed gangs patrol the streets and squares. Some citizens have prevented the devastation to the parish of the Holy Spirit and Christian homes. It always makes more dramatic the situation of refugees. The rise of Islamists shows the failure of a Christian enclave on the Nineveh Plain.

    Mosul (AsiaNews) - The situation in Mosul, "is calming," but "you cannot say that it is returning to normal," because the city is in a state of "anarchy"; the largest block of the assailants who recently broke into the city "has moved on elsewhere," to "fight and conquer other parts of the country."

    Today, "there are armed people who patrol the streets and squares", the majority "are Iraqis, but it is possible that there may be even foreigners ... we have no confirmation of this". This is what, Msgr. Shimoun Emil Nona, Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, in northern Iraq tells AsiaNews. About 500 thousand people, Muslims and Christians have fled the city, creating a humanitarian as well as economic and political crisis.

    "Some families have remained - adds the bishop - but they are holed up in the house and prevails an atmosphere of fear and waiting for what will happen next."

    Archbishop Nona has found refuge in the village of Tilkif, three kilometers from the center of Mosul, and is closely following - and deeply concerned about - the evolution of the situation in the city and throughout his diocese. A reality that has previously mourned the violent death of faithful and pastors, including the former Archbishop Msgr. Faraj Rahho (who was kidnapped) and Fr. Ragheed Ganni.

    And the parish of Fr. Ragheed is the scene of an event that " is a source of hope" and "bears witness to the goodness of the people of Iraq," amid a dramatic backdrop of violence and terror: "Yesterday - says the prelate - some people broke into the Church of the Holy Spirit to steal and wreak havoc. Nevertheless, neighbors, belonging to Muslim families, took to the streets to defend the place of Christian worship. Eventually they managed to chase the attackers away. Many people who have remained in the city, including Muslims, are trying to defend as much as possible Christian houses and places of worship. "

    However, the climate remains tense and difficult, especially for refugees who have left Mosul in an attempt to escape militia violence. "Right now the situation is under control - says Msgr. Nona - because there are people of good will who help them, together with small groups and organizations active in the area, but unless something changes in the next few days, the crisis is likely to worsen and the solidarity of the Christian community, which has opened the doors of their homes and villages to accommodate those who fled, won't be enough. We will need help. "

    The archbishop is still amazed at the ease with which militants took Mosul: "For us - he says - it is still unclear what happened, suddenly everything collapsed. The city was controlled by the army and police, there were no signals that could have predicted what happened in the next few hours". The military abandoned their weapons and posts "and these people entered without any problems or opposition". Another thing that needs to be clarified is the ease with which they are advancing towards the capital as village after village along the 400 km separating Mosul from Baghdad capitulate.

    The fall of Mosul and the violence of recent days are a further confirmation of the inadequacy of the proposal to form a Christian enclave in the plain of Nineveh, now in the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS ). "After the fall of Saddam in 2003 - Msgr. Nona - several solutions were put forward to try to ensure peace and security in the country. Nineveh, was an idea like many others, but time and effort is needed to find an effective and long-lasting solution. The key point is and remains the need for an overall comprehensive plan for the country, which sadly lacking". (DS)

     

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    See also

    18/01/2010 IRAQ
    Mosul, a Christian businessman killed as the faithful celebrate their new archbishop
    Cold-blooded execution of a 52-year-old Syrian Catholic, married and father of two daughters. Local sources complain: a new attack to push the Christians toward the plain of Nineveh. Yesterday, Msgr. Emil Shimoun Nona, the new archbishop of Mosul, made his entry into the diocese.

    15/08/2014 IRAQ
    For Mosul Archbishop, Islamist violence has led to new "unity" among Christians and the Church of Iraq
    For Mgr Nona, hope remains alive at this dark moment. Renewed ties among the faithful and the members of the Chaldean Church are among the positive signs. Dignity and long-term prospects for displaced people must be restored. He expresses special thanks to AsiaNews for its solidarity initiative. Al Maliki leaves the field open for the formation of a government of national unity.

    13/05/2008 IRAQ
    Archbishop Sako: the U.S. and Baghdad should be pressured to help Iraqi Christians to stay
    The archbishop of Kirkuk asks the West to welcome and incorporate those who have been forced to flee, but at the same time to give concrete help to those who have decided to remain.

    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."

    11/03/2008 IRAQ
    Silence must not descend on Archbishop of Mosul
    The appeal was launched by the Archbishop of Kirkuk, 12 days on from Msgr. Rahoo’s abduction. To the Bishops and Christians of the world: “do not remain indifferent to this suffering, do not leave us alone to face this trial”. Amid increased fears, today in Kirkuk 15 Muslim leaders ask once again that the prelate be released.



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