08/05/2014, 00.00
IRAQ

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Baghdad patriarch tells pope that the Iraqi Christian tragedy is rooted in superpowers' selfishness

In a letter to Pope Francis, eastern patriarchs and the presidents of bishops' conferences around the world, Mar Sako calls on the international community to come to grips with the situation and take "concrete actions". The survival of the Christian minority is at stake and a strong stance is needed, even by Muslims. He appeals for help and solidarity.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - The international community and the world's superpowers must realise the need for "concrete actions of solidarity" for Iraqi Christians because the "very survival" of the minority in the country and in middle East is at stake, said Raphael Louis I Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, in a message to Pope Francis, eastern patriarchs and the presidents of Bishops' Conferences, which was sent to AsiaNews for wider dissemination.

His Beatitude calls for an "appeal to your heart," looking for a "solution" that is "only in the hands of the international community", in particular of the "superpowers" who have a "human and moral responsibility."

In Iraq, for Christians the situation is getting worse as they flee their homes from Mosul, and now from other cities of the north, in the plain of Nineveh, like Sinjar, Telkef, Batnaya and Telleskuf.

Sunni Islamist militias have imposed strict sharia rule and a de facto Caliphate, forcing minorities to flee or pay jizya, the poll tax normally exacted from "infidels".

Faced with a never-ending tragedy, the patriarch of Baghdad addresses directly world powers, asking them to drop their "self-interest" and join together to achieve a "peaceful political solution" that alone can put an end to the conflict.

These "powers", which Mar Sako does not mention directly, should " vigorously exercise their pressure" on those who provide "economic support" and entertain "military ties" with the Islamists. The objective is to "cut the roots of violence and radicalisation."

Mar Sako also appeals to the Islamic world, saying he was "shocked and outraged" by the lack of a "strong stance" by Muslims and their leaders against the terrorist movement, which he warns is a "threat to Muslims themselves."

His Beatitude notes that Iraqi Christians have a "vital need for emergency humanitarian aid" as well as "real, effective and permanent protection".

In his letter, the Chaldean patriarch sadly points to the lack of "cooperation between the central and the Kurdish regional governments," which favours ISIS's advance and compounds the problems caused by the new government's lack of experience.

Lastly, Mar Sako calls on "all our brothers and sisters throughout the world" to be "very supportive" during this difficult time.

He also calls for "a communion of hearts and prayers" and reaffirms once again his "belief in dialogue, exchange and peaceful and civilised co-existence".

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