07/08/2016, 17.31
IRAQ
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As more die, Patriarch Sako calls on Muslims and Christians to unite against terrorism

The Chaldean Church led a prayer vigil for the victims of the Baghdad massacre. As the latter’s death toll rises to 292, violence continues: 30 dead and 50 wounded in an attack on a Shia shrine in Balad. For Mar Sako, such crimes deny religious values and lead "straight to hell rather than heaven”.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The Chaldean Patriarchate held a memorial service yesterday to remember the victims of last Sunday’s Karrada massacre, in Baghdad.

Faced with "such a tragedy, we are joining millions of Muslims in praying for the affected families that may God have mercy on the victims and bless the wounded with a speedy recovery,” said His Beatitude Mar Raphael Louis Sako in his address.

“We express our shock, sadness, solidarity with Iraqis and strongly condemn these cruel acts that affected innocent people,” he added.

The terrorists, the prelate noted, turned a time of celebration, the feast of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and prayer, into a time of “national mourning".

Indeed, the Islamic State group continues to strike in Iraq. Over night suicide bombers and gunmen killed at least 30 people and wounded 50 others in an attack outside the Sayid Mohammed bin Ali al-Hadi mausoleum in Balad, a town north of Baghdad.

Early reports indicate that a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the shrine. This was followed by a second bomber as well as gunmen firing into fleeing crowd.

This bloodbath comes as Iraq continues to count is losses from the Karrada attack. The authorities announced that the death toll now stood at 292. This is the worst single attack since the US invasion and the subsequent fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Speaking at the memorial service, the Chaldean patriarch insisted that terrorism "has nothing to do with religion”, that it is linked to “political games that allow the killing of Muslims, Christians, Mandaeans, and Yazidis" on the pretext that they are "infidel”.

Such crimes are a denial of religious values ​​ and lead their perpetrators "straight to hell rather than heaven, because [heaven] is a big lie [and] the result of brainwashing."

Mar Sako mentioned the Jubilee Year of mercy and the merciful face of the Muslim God, elements that drive away from barbarism to embrace encounter, understanding and mutual forgiveness.

"God will forgives us, which is the only way to fight extremism, hatred and terrorism,” he said.

Finally, the prelate explained that if the government were coherent and politicians worked together, Jihadis and the Islamic State would have been defeated long time ago.

Meanwhile, he calls on everyone to turn “the Karrada massacre into a collective stance for peace, stability, provision of public services, creating jobs, and the elimination of sectarian quotas, corruption and terrorism.”

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