Card Sako expresses sadness and sorrow over attack against a Christian shop keeper in Al-Amarah
The home of the owner of a shop selling alcohol in the central-eastern Iraqi city is the target of homemade bombs thrown from a motorbike. No was killed or wounded; only material damage was reported. The Church is not in favour of selling alcohol, but this is a personal matter and the illegal trade would be far worse.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – On Sunday, the home of a Christian shop keeper who sold alcohol was targeted in an attack. The incident took place in al-Amarah, a city in central-eastern Iraq on the Tigris River, capital of Maysan governorate.
Reacting to the event, the Chaldean primate, Card Louis Raphael Sako, said he was full of “sadness and sorrow” at the news.
In a note posted on the Chaldean patriarchate's website, the prelate condemned the "attack on the house" of a “member of our Church” involving “two explosive devices".
Fortunately, no one was killed or wounded, but the act “sparked terror in the family and the Christian community" because it brought back memories of past violence.
Police sources said that a homemade device was thrown from a motorbike, causing material damage to the building.
Only eight Christian families still live in the area, while the others emigrated abroad or fled to other cities in the country in search of greater security.
“The owner of the house owns a liquor store and has been the subject of many threats,” the patriarch said. “It is clear that the incident is linked to the sale of alcohol, even though he has a regular and official licence.”
“We are not in favour of selling liquor,” the primate explained, “but this this a personal matter and a source of livelihood for people.”
According to the primate, bootleg alcohol sales, like drugs and prostitution, would be worse, and “destroy the lives of young people.”
As the country seems to be turning more and more into a jungle, “Christians, who are peaceful, are perceived (wrongly) as a weak link”.
Because of this, “Christian assets and property are taken,” a situation that even radical Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr has criticised.
What is more, Christians face job discrimination. When a Christian applies for a job, "he is asked for a bribe of US$ 10,000 or more to be hired.”
Christians are also excluded from top business and government positions, without representation in centres of power.
In October 2016, the Iraqi parliament approved a law cracking down on alcoholic products.
Thanks to Conservative lawmakers, the bill, which concerned municipalities, included provisions against the sale, importation and making of wines, beer and spirits.
This met with opposition among non-Muslim political leaders and civil society groups. Christian lawmakers opposed the legislation. However, soon enough, the law began to bear its perverse fruits.
In late October 2016, in Basra, a group of armed men, on motorbikes and with covered faces, opened fire on a Christian man, killing him in cold blood.
Nazar Elias had fled Qaraqosh two years earlier following the advance of the Islamic State group and had opened a grocery store in the southern Iraqi city that also sold alcohol.
In another incident in Karrada, a district of the capital Baghdad, unknown attackers blew up a shop selling alcohol.
“We Christians are bearers of a humanitarian message of love and brotherhood,” said Card Sako. “We would like to work together with our fellow citizens” to promote “human, spiritual, social and national” development to improve the future of the country “we love”.