Vienna (AsiaNews) - In a "wounded" Middle East and
Iraq the "silence" of the Arab and Muslim leaders is encouraging the
rise of the Islamic State, a "barbaric" and brutal force that "distorts"
the Muslim religion. This was stated by the Chaldean Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael I Sako speaking at an
international conference in Vienna on interreligious dialogue. His Beatitude warns
that "experts and scholars of Islam must tackle the root cause of IS, refute
their arguments with case law and expose their criminal practices" because
"their ideas and thoughts are a plague on the human race" .
Patriarch Sako delivered his intervention yesterday in
Vienna, Austria, on the occasion of an international conference organized by
the center for the promotion of interreligious dialogue, founded and supported by
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. The meeting was held November 18 to 19 and involved
the participation of 200 Muslim and Christian figures, under the theme: "United
against violence in the name of religion, in support of cultural and religious
differences in Iraq and Syria".
The Patriarch also denounced the trafficking of women by the jihadi militias, who
are trying to regress society back to the dark ages. "We - said the Patriarch
- look forward to the day when Muslims will cry out loud [...] that attacks against innocent people, whether
Christian or Muslim, believers or not, are against religion and against God."
Below the full text of Mar Sako sent to AsiaNews:
To the Muslim Brothers and
Sisters in All Over the World.
Greetings to you as
brothers in the same human family and in name of all values we share. Based on
our common goals and with confidence in the capability of nations to preserve
life and to direct the public opinion to respect their aspirations, I appeal to
you, who represent the moderate majority of Muslims wherever you are, our
current tragedy be a lost cause or an unacknowledged responsibility. I address
you with a spirit of sincerity, carrying in my hand a map of our wounded Middle
East and of Iraq, that part of the globe, which has been for many centuries the
central focus of the world; a zone which is facing an unprecedented historic
crisis. With this letter I would like to express my pain and the pain of your
Christian brothers and sisters in the face of our calamity, appealing to your
conscience and goodwill to do something for the liberation of their towns,
recovery of their property and restitution of their rights. Accordingly, I
request a drastic change, because it is your responsibility to find an answer,
which has to come from you and not from an outside force.
Sharing the same human
sensitivity, I believe, you were equally shocked as we were by the barbaric
acts that swept through the towns of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain against the
Christians, Yazidis and other minorities who were uprooted empty-handed from
their homes and villages overnight, heading towards "an unknown future" struck
by fear and terror.
Amidst this gathering in
the name of humanity, it is worth mentioning that there is a superior law
(Sharia) of love and mercy engraved in the human heart. This superior law
demands compassion and charity for every helpless father with a hungry infant
in his arms and mercy for every human fellow in pain. Therefore, the crimes
committed by ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) against such helpless
civilians demonstrate an absurd theory or law that is by no means based on any
human law except on a barbaric one.
What was equally shocking
is the violation by the ISIS of the sanctity of churches and monasteries by
burning of their contents including old manuscripts, selling or converting them
into mosques, some of these were built in the first centuries. It is also quite
shameful to see the captivity of women becoming a legal legislation, as they
are sold in the slave markets at a 'bargain price' as if they were "junk"! That
is evil in the worst respect. This reminds me of the monster, which was
mentioned in the book of Revelation (chapter 13).
In fact, these barbarous
acts which will always be a blot in the human history are promoted by
organizations and ideologies parallel to the Nazis and other totalitarian
political philosophies. The human history, however, will never have mercy on
those who planned and implemented such vicious acts, which threaten the
existence of Christians, the natives of these lands. Unlike the Nazis and other
deadly ideologies of the twentieth century, ISIS claims doing all this in the
name of Islam. I feel more shocked because of those who disbelieved and
belittled the serious danger that ISIS represents, especially when our helpless
people, Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities were targeted in the name of
the Islamic religion. It is quite shocking the insufficiency of the official
Islamic community that only denounced these acts by shy and helpless
statements, showing the absence of a real role in raising the awareness of the
public about the impending danger of ISIS in the name of religion.
How can one stand inactive
in the face of these countless crimes, repression, and displacement of innocent
people which are considered legal and legitimate by ISIS and hard-liners!
Isn't this a humiliation for all mankind in general and women in particular?
Have we started to live in an era of turning our backs on values? There is no
apparent respect for human beings, nor does it appear that is life worth
We, as minorities without
protection or care, are targeted, our children are threatened and kidnapped,
our homes were robbed or looted publicly as if it is legitimate (Halal). We
have reached the peak of iniquity: our families were living in their own homes
with dignity and pride, today they live homeless in several towns and villages,
in tents or in caravans or in a room which is provided rent-free from the
church. Disease is rampant, and the displaced are living in terrible anxiety.
Compassionately, we appeal to you to act responsibly on your part when little
interest, if any, is expressed by the State to liberate Mosul and the towns of
the Nineveh Plain, so that thousands of displaced people can return to their
homes. And it is vital to point out the important role which to be taken to
expose the regional and international forces that try to guarantee the survival
of ISIS cells by interfering in a well calculated way.
We are concerned not only
about the lack of hope for an immediate return to our towns which motivates
people to migrate to any country that provides safety for them, but also that
we might only be a piece of memory in history, beseeching UNESCO to preserve
In the midst of this
anxiety, we request you to think responsibly of our tragedy and do something to
improve the security and provide stability for the citizens. The development of
our country would be assured only by ensuring a continuous normal life.
The real foundation of your
common responsibility towards us is based on your awareness of the growing
religious extremism and obscurantist takfirist that poses a threat to us and is
no less dangerous for you.
Do not forget that
Christians are natives in this land, and they have contributed a lot to Arab
culture. Arabs must present a unified position with one vote against extremism.
This united Arab coalition must ensure a peaceful solution. Extremism is
everywhere and what is required is the adoption of moderation and a thinking
process excommunicating obscurantism, in addition to the rejection of terrorism
in the name of religion and resisting it in all its forms.
Religious scholars should
rebuff ISIS arguments, refute their arguments with jurisprudence and denounce
their heinous practices, in addition to proclaiming their thoughts as the
scourge of humanity. Religious and educational institutions should start
inculcating an open and moderate culture that respects diversity and
provides an objective image about the different peoples, which is characterized
by respect and belief in the equality of all to live in freedom and dignity.
Silence doesn't befit you because ISIS and their followers will direct more
distortionary strikes on Islam. It's dangerous to give them that chance because
people will think that Islam is a threat to world peace. We have great
confidence that you will make a move before it's too late to prevent this
tsunami from again hitting a new area.
We look forward to the day
when Muslims announce officially to themselves and to those who are persecuted
that attacking innocent peoples Muslims or Christians, believers or not is
against religion and against God the Almighty who is the only one who
will judge every human beings and recompense them with justice.
+ Chaldean Patriarch of
Babylon & president of Catholic bishops Assembly in Iraq