07/25/2019, 14.48
Send to a friend

Chaldean Patriarch says no to armed Christian militia

The Iraqi Church wants young people to join the official army or the federal police. A Christian paramilitary force contradicts the Christian spirit of "peace, tolerance, forgiveness". The Church fully supports government limits on weapons and strengthening institutions and national identity.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The Chaldean Patriarchate strongly rejects the presence of any Iraqi armed movement by Christians.

In a strongly worded statement released yesterday, the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako expressed his opposition to the creation of such a Christian militia, and for the first time.

The issue emerged in the past few years in connection with the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group, to free Mosul and the Nineveh Plain.

Instead of a Christian militia, the prelate writes: “we encourage our youth to join the Iraqi official army and the federal police services, while those in [the] Kurdistan region of Iraq [should] join [Kurdish] Peshmerga forces”.

“We respect individual decisions to join Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi or to get involved in politics,” the statement reads, “but not to form a Christian ‘brigade’, since forming a Christian armed militia contradicts the Christian spirituality that calls for love, tolerance, forgiveness and peace.” Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi or People’s Mobilisation Forces are a Shia-dominated militia.

The idea a Christian militia to "defend" people in northern Iraq, especially in the Nineveh Plain where Christians are concentrated, has proven highly contentious.

During the fight against IS and its self-style caliphate, a Christian-dominated militia, the Babylon Brigades, was created, closely linked to Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi.

This Christian militia eventually gave rise to the Babylon Movement (BM), a political party that did well in the May 2018 elections, winning two of the five seats reserved for Christians, which critics attribute to Shia support.

One of the BM’s leader is Rayan al Kildani, a controversial figure also known as Rayan the Chaldean, who was recently targeted by US sanctions.

He is suspected of grabbing farmland and heading paramilitary groups who have, de facto, prevented displaced families from returning to their homes in the Nineveh Plain.

Referring to a decree issued by Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on 1 July 2019, Patriarch Sako writes that it “agrees with the guidelines of many political entities, and with our mission as Iraqi Christians in consolidating whatever [that] leads to harmonious coexistence on the ground” and “solidif[ies] the pillars of a strong government of law, citizenship and equality.”

In his statement, Patriarch Sako reiterates his support for the decree, which also limits “weapons to the state, strengthen[s] its institutions, and reinforce[s] national awareness among Iraqis, in terms of their national identity.”

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Card Sako: from Baghdad cathedral to Qaraqosh, the martyrdom of Iraqi Christians
31/10/2023 19:10
Chaldean Patriarch: The future of Iraqi Christians lies in the Nineveh Plains
09/12/2019 20:01
Card Sako urges support for the Christian presence in Nineveh, threatened by tensions and violence
12/09/2019 18:02
Card Sako: Christian pain caused by the Islamic State in the Nineveh Plain is still raw
09/08/2022 15:56
From Anbar to Mosul, IS anti-personnel mines continue to kill
13/12/2021 13:49


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”