11/05/2019, 12.00
IRAQ
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Card. Sako: politicians' inertia before young people’s "cries"

The Chaldean patriarchate promotes an ecumenical prayer for "peace, security and stability". The Church's closeness to young people "on the street" to "claim their rights". Protesters have overcome sectarian divisions and restored national identity. New victims in Baghdad and in the south among the protesters.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Corruption and sectarian divisions "are the main cause" of the "deterioration" of the current situation in Iraq, are "source of division" and origin of "absurd conflicts", stated the Chaldean patriarch, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, during the ecumenical prayer for "peace, security and stability" held yesterday afternoon in Baghdad.

The event was convoked in a context of growing violence linked to anti-government demonstrations. " The most awful thing is that everyone is talking about this phenomenon starting from officials in the Government, but none of them dare to eradicate this “cancer”, added the Cardinal

The function was held in the cathedral of St. Joseph, with the theme "O Lord of peace, give peace to Iraq". The program included a minute of silence in memory of innocent victims between demonstrators and security forces and the hope of a speedy recovery for the wounded. This was followed by the reading of the psalms, the reading of the Beatitudes of Matthew, religious songs. Present were the auxiliary bishops Warduni and Yaldo, nuns, priests and numerous faithful, each holding a candle and the flag of Iraq.

"These young people - underlined the Chaldean primate - These young people went out to the streets demanding their rights because they found themselves heading to “no through road”, expressing their pain. Where there is a shortage in services, in electricity and water etc. The same thing applies to health and educational institutions, streets, and employability".

The demonstrators, the Cardinal points out, were able to "overcome the confessional divisions" and "restore their national identity", an element that constitutes "in itself a huge goal" because "nothing is greater than Iraq". This "is what we saw during the visit to Tahrir Square on November 2 last" where "all citizens had only Iraq at heart".

Finally, Card Sako turned to the ruling class asking they "hear" the cry of protest from the nation's sons and daughters "in a constructive way and with a spirit of responsibility". And a "special tribute" was dedicated "to our security forces", reminding them "to embrace the popular march" towards "a more stable and prosperous tomorrow".

In spite of the appeals of the Patriarch, there are reports of new episodes of violence and further victims. Late yesterday evening in Shatra, southern Iraq, police opened fire on protesters, shooting at least two people in the head. Last night's deaths are added to the six demonstrators who died in Baghdad, shot dead by security agents.

The number of victims and violence also concern the United Nations. The UN special envoy for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert says she is "horrified by the continuing bloodshed in Iraq". "The violence - she adds - generates only violence, the peaceful protesters must be protected. The time has come for national dialogue”.

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