Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Osama Bin Laden’s death has raised fears among Iraqi Christians. Iraq’s ambassador to Italy, Saywan Barzani, has tried to allay such fears, saying that for his government, the “most important thing is to ensure the security and defence of Christians.” In Iraq, Church sources note “Osama Bin Laden is a strange and dangerous phenomenon. He has created a school, and an en entire generation has been indoctrinated by him. They number in the thousands in Arab nations but also elsewhere.”
Bin Laden’s death has caused dangerous reactions, a Christian priest told AsiaNews. “On TV, he is described as a saint. Even serious people view him as an actual mujahid (fighter), a shahid (martyr) who should be celebrated as such. An imam said that just [by shedding] a drop of his blood, he will go to heaven. Bin Laden has fought against Sufis, Christians and Shias… I am shocked.”
His legacy will survive his death, this according to Christians in Baghdad. “Bin Laden represents a radical movement against everything that is not medieval Islam. It is especially politicised against the West (seen as morally and culturally corrupt). In many Arab countries, intellectuals praised him. The danger, for the West, which is seen as the Great Satan, is now greater.”
For Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, a great educational effort is needed. “His death does not solve the problem. With his disappearance, there will not be more peace. His death will not increase pluralism and communal harmony. We need a campaign to re-educate young Muslims towards a moderate Islam that accepts others and respects diversity. War complicates matters and does not help positive change.”
Many also fear a possible “vengeance”. AsiaNews spoke to Saiwan Barzani, Iraq’s ambassador to Italy about it.
“Iraq is the main front in the worldwide fight against terrorism,” he said. “We have had the largest number of attacks in history as well as the greatest number of casualties. We have a long experience, and our security forces and military are on maximum alert.”
Barzani noted that terrorists began targeting Christians when they realised that this would attract media attention.” The government is doing everything it can to protect churches and Iraq’s Christian communities because they are an historical component of Iraq. Indeed, we must protect them by any means.”
Now the danger is greater. “In their strategy, terrorists will try to target Christians more than others, but the most important thing is to provide them maximum security, finding ways to protect them without raising too much their media profile or taking security measures that are so visible that they will draw terrorist interest. Terrorists want publicity, and this way, they destabilise the country.”