» 04/20/2009, 00.00
Nineveh Plain: a ghetto for Iraqi Christians is an illusion
The Archbishop of Kirkuk comes out against a plan promoted by Iraqi political and religious leaders leaving abroad to set up a Christian enclave in the Nineveh Plain. The idea is meant to “save Christians” from attacks and violence, but it runs against Iraqi history and Christians’ mission and could accentuate the ongoing ethnic and religious confrontation in the country.
Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – Some political, intellectual and religious leaders from outside of Iraq have recently called for an autonomous zone, a “safe heaven”, for Christians.1 Now that the idea of an autonomous region in southern Iraq is no longer being discussed this interference will create serious problems. I express here my concerns as a pastor, not a politician.
Those who back the plan for Nineveh Plain live in relative security whilst we Iraqi Christians are exposed to terrorist attacks and death. Perhaps their noble intent is to help us but in fact they are acting without consulting us to determine our fate and future. Thus they pretend to decide on our behalf without any mandate.
The future of Iraqi Christians must be examined first and foremost by Christians who live in Iraq—Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriacs and Armenians—through the mediation of competent and disinterested political leaders called to take a clear position on the future of Christians.
Diaspora Christians can help us by maintaining awareness about our fate in world public opinion, but they should not take our place. We need to be helped so our right to determine our destiny can be recognised. Anyone who acts as our guardian in the end helps those who want to keep in a minority state.
In today’s Iraqi context the demand for a Christian enclave is a dangerous political game. It will be exploited by others and will be used against us. We must be objective, realistic and prudent. A Christian ghetto can inevitably lead to endless sectarian, religious and political clashes. Our freedom will be reduced.
We Christians are a fundamental component of the history and culture of Iraq. We are a significant presence in the social and religious life of the country and we feel Iraqi. We have resisted threats and persecution and have found ways to continue to live and bear witness to the Gospel in our land without ceasing being loyal citizens even at the cost of the lives of our fathers, brothers and sons.
Today we want to continue to be present and bear witness in all of our land, in the whole of Iraq. Demanding the creation of a ghetto is especially against the Christian message which sees us as the salt and yeast in the dough of humanity.
A good thing for the Christian community of this country is to encourage national unity, democracy, peaceful coexistence, a pluralistic culture, mutual recognition as humans with dignity, as well as cooperation with everyone to build a better society based on the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as guaranteed by the nation’s constitution and international law.
*Archbishop of Kirkuk
1. The plan to set up an “Assyrian ghetto” in the Nineveh Plains is strongly backed by the Christian Diaspora in the United States, which is exercising great influence on the Patriarchate of Baghdad, by Evangelical Christians, and by Kurdistan’s Finance Minister Sarkis Aghajan, who in the last few years has provided large funds for the reconstruction of many villages and churches in the north. The Vatican has never taken an explicit position on the issue but its Secretariat of State has been against the idea. Last January Benedict XVI, during the ad limina visit by Chaldean bishops, insisted that Christians must build ties of understanding “between Christians and Muslims’ and offer a “disinterested witness of charity [. . .] without distinction of origin and religion.”
Chaldean synod: the names of two new bishops leaked
They are Fadi Isho and Philip Najim. Synod discusses the safety of Christian community and the controversial idea of an “ethnic enclave” for Iraqi Christians.
For Mar Sako, one year after the Mosul tragedy, only unity and reconciliation can save Iraq
On the first anniversary of the great exodus from the Nineveh Plain, the Chaldean Patriarch addresses a letter to Iraq’s government and parliament. In it, he denounces the difficult conditions in which Christians and Yezidis still live, as well as the thousands of deaths among Muslims. Peace is the only response to the violence of extremist groups who "exploit religion".
Pressures to annex northern Christian villages to Kurdistan
Reports, unconfirmed by political authorities, suggest Kurdish officials are getting Christian refugees in the Nineveh Plain to sign up for annexation to Kurdistan in exchange of monthly help. The initiative falls within a scheme never abandoned by the Erbil government to create a Christian safe heaven under its administration. However, the plan is raising concerns among the local population.
Ethnic cleansing first against Yazidis, soon against Christians
The death toll from anti-Yazidi attacks in northern Iraq is rising and might reach 500. Sources warn AsiaNews that Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain are at risk. The area is currently controlled by Wahhabi extremists since there is no presence of US or Iraqi troops. In a climate of growing insecurity 40 children in Kirkuk receive their first communion on the day of the Assumption of Our Lady.
16/05/2017 16:47:00 IRAQ
Chaldean patriarchate against Christian enclave in Nineveh Plain proposed by Syriac bishops
A Syriac Catholic and two Syriac Orthodox prelates demand again a protected area for Christians in northern Iraq, with administrative autonomy and international protection. This position does not represent the view of Patriarch Sako. Chaldeans and the Iraqi Church call for upholding Iraq’s territorial unity against the ghetto trap.
MYANMAR - VATICAN
“Hectic hours” before pope's arrival in Yangon, Catholics to help pilgrims
Some 200,000 people are expected at the solemn Mass at Kyaikkasan Grounds, including Buddhist and Muslim leaders. Some 6,000 kids will take part in the Mass for young people the next day. Filipinos, Australians and Thais are also expected for Pope Francis’ apostolic journey. From our correspondent.
The genocide of Yemen:First bombs, now hunger, thirst and cholera
The coalition led by Riyadh blocks the arrival of fuel needed to run the wells. Over a million people without water in Taiz, Saada, Hodeida, Sana'a and Al Bayda. According to UNICEF, 1.7 million children suffer from acute malnutrition”; 150,000 children are likely to die in the coming weeks. The silence and neglect of the international community. The threat of hitting crude-cargo ships. Yesterday, Saudi Arabia allowed the reopening of Sana'a airport and Hudayda port, but only for humanitarian aid. An insufficient measure.
20/11/2017 LEBANON - FRANCE
AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!
AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.