Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا abouna.org
His Beatitude Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans in Iraq, continues to write articles depicting the situation of Christian Iraqis and taking a look at the prospects of their future. In this Arabic-language article posted on saint-adday.com, he exhaustively delves into the political map in Iraq, the reality of Christians, and the endeavors to view the future awaiting Iraqi citizens.
Patriarch Sako says that "since the fall of the former regime in April 2003, Iraq has not experienced a normal political life as successive governments have failed to achieve what the citizens aspired to in terms of building peace and stability, restructuring the state, implementing important reforms, building true democracy, as well as achieving justice, equality, and prosperity for them. On the contrary, in light of political corruption and conflicting agendas, challenges have worsened, and crises have accumulated as the situation deteriorated further. The current political impasse is only a natural result of the sectarian and quota system that imposed its reality on society."
Stating that the Christians are the indigenous people of Iraq who serve as a historical witness to the originality and glory of their country’s civilization--which includes the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriacs, and Armenians, and then the arrival of Arab Muslims--he adds that they are an integral part of the beautiful Iraqi fabric, and they have proven that they are extremely patriotic as they greatly contributed in many stages of Iraq's history regarding the progress and growth of their society culturally, economically and socially, with their sincerity, intellect, and money. He noted that Human Rights Law concluded by Iraq indicates that Christians have the right to feel full citizenship in terms of rights and duties, but unfortunately they were considered as second-class citizens in their mother country because of their Christian religion. He lamented the fact that Christians' feelings were bitterly scathed by calling them infidels and polytheists in a number of religious and educational gatherings.
He accentuated the fact that the ignorance and myopia related to the fact that Christians believe in one God, negatively affected their future whereby at the time they numbered 1.5 million people, their number has currently dropped to fewer than 500,000 people. He called for changing the societal mentality and culture in order to preserve the plurality of Iraq's present and future whereby the Christian, Muslim, Sabaean, Mandaean, and Yazidi identities should remain as a common and respected Iraqi heritage designed to spread the noble values of humanity and religion free from classifying others as people of faith while others are infidels. Stressing that the Muslim majority shoulders the responsibility of the Christian presence as well as of defending their rights because they are a unique case of religious, cultural, linguistic, and social diversity, he adds: "The Christians of Iraq and the East, are the salt of the Earth and the mirror of their countries! This dilemma must be addressed legally and socially by enacting new legislations that emphasize equal citizenship for all, respect for all religions, as well as criminalizes speeches inciting discrimination and hatred."
Cardinal Sako then summarized the Christian reality in Iraq by five points relevant to speeches of hatred and religious extremism, definition of citizenship, peace, confidence in the future, and employment of Christians among others. He concludes his article by a supplication to the Almighty God which says, "O Lord, as you have created all human beings equal in dignity, we ask you to overflow the spirit of brotherhood, solidarity and respect among Iraqis so that they can feel that they are one extended family, living in peace, justice and equality free from conflicts and injustice. O Lord of peace, grant peace to our Iraq."