06/22/2015, 00.00
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Middle East "restless". Full citizenship to restore rights to Christians and help Islam

The Syrian-born French scholar Joseph Yacoub speaks to AsiaNews. The Islamic State offensive has caused a "catastrophe" for minority and other Muslims. Need for "long-term" humanitarian, military and "above all political" solutions. Citizenship, peace and rights to end crisis.

Rome (AsiaNews) - In Iraq, Syria and throughout the Middle East, the situation "is disturbing for many reasons", starting with the Islamic state (IS) invasion of Mosul and the plain of Nineveh last June of the. This "caused a catastrophe within the Christian community." says Joseph Yacoub, an Assyrian-Chaldean native of Syria, political science professor at the Catholic University of Lyon and an expert in Middle Eastern Christianity. Speaking to AsiaNews he says "there are no more Christians in the area," but a continuing exodus to "neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan," although "they lack diplomatic, military and political guarantees to be able to stay there long-term", which is why the final goal, for many of them, becomes "Europe, the US, Canada or Australia."

The scholar was in Rome in recent days to attend an international conference on the genocide that involved the Assyrian, Chaldean and Syriac community in the Middle East during the First World War. A tragedy on which Yacoub wrote a book and that is being repeated today, with the persecutions perpetrated by the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) on Christians - as well as Yazidis and other minorities - in Iraq and in Syria.
According to Prof. Yacoub, "long-term humanitarian, military, but also political solutions" are needed. So far there has been a timely distribution of aid, has tried to "fight on the military" the jihadist movement, but no war "has been successful so far, so we must go further and seek political solutions ".  In this the scholar says  "the Arab world must rigorously analyze the deep malaise that lurks within it at a political and ideological level".

He urges the Muslim world  to “reflect” on its "organizations and political structures", assuming that "Arab nationalism has failed" in its duty to ensure "full citizenship and equal rights between people, regardless of race, religion or ideology ". the professor points out, "there are ambiguities that need to be addressed on the meaning and the concept of citizenship, of belonging to a country, regardless of ethnicity or religion."

He recalls the history and millennial presence of Christians in the Middle East which have their roots in this martyred land. He warns that the need to "study the constitutions and the introduction of a citizenship that is not only theoretical, but has practical application and real that puts everyone on an equal footing" is becoming increasingly urgent .

Violence and persecution is not unique to Christians and minorities, but also Muslims who are "also victims," ​​notes the researcher.  So much so that we are facing a "global problem that touches the constitutive ideologies of this world in terms of equality" . In his view it is "the fundamental issue of the education and the equal treatment of citizens," a task "for the political authorities, respecting religious sensibilities."

The Scholar believes that peace is possible "if we dialogue with each other" even if today "the situation seems to have come to a dead end without the prospect of any solution." The problems are "serious and deep", but alternatives and initiatives are available "in civil and political society" where there are still "people of good will," even among Muslims, who "need to be supported."

Prof. Yacoub concludes by recalling the Massarat center in Baghdad, founded by Shiite leader Saad Salloum, who has long worked for the recognition of diversity in Iraq. In 2014 he drew up an inventory of Christians, at the conclusion of which he added a comment: "If the tree is Iraqi Muslim, its roots are Christian. And is it possible for a tree survive without its roots? ". (DS)

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