His Beatitude Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, has recently been writing several fiery articles lamenting the situation of the Christian Iraqis, indicating that their rights are regularly violated which augurs a bleak future for this country.
It is a dolorous situation that exudes sorrow and distress to recall that with the outset of the 21st century, Christians of the Middle East, with particular reference to Iraq, are being exposed to the harshest “tacit” forms of persecution with insurmountable obstacles placed in their way that make their life in Iraq another form of “inferno”.
In his recent article, Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako states that “human rights are a natural gift for every person, regardless of one’s religious, as well as national or geographical affiliation. The concept of majority and minority, whatever the number, is not applicable in normal circumstances except with regards to political tendencies, which are based on civil society, as in developed countries.”
Stressing that certain articles of the Iraqi constitution relevant to rights and freedoms are gravely violated when considering Christians and other minorities who are the 21st century victims of discrimination, he questions, “Can’t the Christians and other minorities enjoy the same rights that Muslims enjoy? What a regrettable and painful reality!”
Cardinal Sako unveils a reality that is rarely mentioned when stating that, “It is well-known that Christianity was born in this country at the end of the first century. When the Muslims came from the Arabian Peninsula, most of the people of Iraq were Christians. The Christians at the time enjoyed a state of common living, mutual respect, and harmony by those who became the ‘majority’. Furthermore, despite some perpetrated harassment they contributed to building their country to a large extent through their patriotic education, culture, skills and sincerity.”
Cardinal Sako sums up the suffering of the Christian Iraqis and other minorities by stating that this suffering is being aggravated one day after the other for well-known reasons, namely traditional mentality, old laws, rampant corruption, ideas that label others as infidels which stir up hatred, and the absence of full citizenship. He adds that influential parties have been expropriating houses of minorities, stripping them of jobs, and conducting marginalization of their rights which make them realize the prevailing injustice as a time when being classified as second-class citizens. This prompts them to emigrate in search of their rights, and consequently drop out of sight after more than 2,000 years of existence on this land.
He also urged the Iraqi government to be committed to respecting its international commitment to human rights by adhering to the spirit of responsibility, to emphasizing the fact that Iraq is the homeland for everyone, to consolidating national identity, to spreading a culture of acceptance of the others, to fighting corruption and to striving to promote economic development.
In another development, he called for observing three days of fasting, namely December 21-23, 2022 for peace n Iraq and the world.
On the first day of his visit to Iraq on March 5, 2021, His Holiness Pope Francis addressed the Iraqi government authorities and called for an end to violence and extremism so that ordinary Iraqis can live, work, and pray in peace. His call for ending extremism is designed to give all Iraqis their legitimate rights so that social peace and justice can prevail which leads to the progress of societies.
In this context, it is important to review the views expressed by Pope Francis during his visit to Iraq in order to follow his perspicacious and wise views that map out the path of safety for Iraq.
By Munir Bayouk/ en.abouna.org