02/18/2019, 11.33
IRAQ - GERMANY
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Card. Sako: Constitution, school and work for the future of Iraq

The Chaldean patriarch spoke at the 55th Munich Security Conference, from 15 to 17 February. The prelate insists on the need to counter "the jihadist ideology" and to reform Islam by eliminating the concept of "holy war". Data on anti-Christian violence in the country.

Munich (AsiaNews) - Reforming the Constitution and the legal system of the country, reinforcing the primary objective of "respect for life", eliminating divisions and abuses that create "second-class citizens"; change the school curriculum "updating religion programs" respecting "the needs of modern times"; guaranteeing "job opportunities for young people". These are the points outlined by the Chaldean patriarch, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, in his speech at the 55th edition of the Munich Security Conference, in Germany, from February 15th to 17th.

In his address, sent to AsiaNews, the bishop insisted on the importance of "eliminating the jihadist ideology" in Islam and the concept of "holy war" against Christians and other religions.

The annual conference in the German city is the most important event in the world in terms of security and international policies. The event is attended by heads of state and government, prominent politicians, international organizations and representatives of the Armed Forces, civil society, business and the media.

The Chaldean primate intervened at the invitation of President Msc Wolfgang Ischinger, a retired German diplomat formerly ambassador to Washington. In his speech, Cardinal Sako recalled that the essence of the religious "message" is generally aimed at coexistence and cooperation, peace and security, freedom and dignity. However, for over a century Christians in the Middle East have experienced a climate of "endless violence".

From the Ottoman Empire to the First World War, through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 that caused violence, confusion and triggered a spiral of terror, there are many causes that explain the persecution. In particular, the American intervention has caused a situation of "chaos", the result of the "dissolution of the state" and prepared the ground for the advent of the Islamic State (IS, ex Isis).

The drama of Christians is revealed in numbers: 1225 faithful killed in various incidents of violence in Iraq; one million left the country; 120,000 displaced from Mosul and the Nineveh plain, who had to live for more than three years in refugee camps in conditions of extreme need (without the central government in Baghdad ever intervening to provide for their needs); 58 churches and many mosques were bombed or destroyed; about 23 thousand Christian, Yazidi and Sabei properties have been expropriated by the local "mafia".

The Cardinal warns, that to stop this spiral of hatred, "the ideology of jihad" must be eliminated and Muslim religious leaders encouraged to overcome the "literal" interpretation of the Koran and other sacred texts. Then he calls for the promotion of "humanitarian and national participation" in the development of the country "in a spirit of fraternity", which includes  "support for the patrimony of Christians".

Card. Sako emphasizes that it a "rapid stabilization" of the plain of Nineveh is "essential", now that it is free from jihadist militias, but threatened by the Shiite forces that have recently targeted Christians. "The international community - he concludes - must assist the displaced and develop an effective long-term strategy" to guarantee "peace and prosperity" to a nation that "is supposed to be rich in resources".

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