ASIA/IRAQ - “Continuing violence does not deter Christians from rebuilding churches, publishing Catholic newspapers and even opening Catholic web sites” Fr Nizar Semaan told Fides

Tuesday, 28 June 2005

Baghdad (Fides Service)- “The situation is undoubtedly very difficult. Terrorism appears to be omnipresent and omnipotent with daily reports of bomb blasts in which people are killed and mutilated. This cannot be denied, but nevertheless it must be said that the greater part of the Iraqi people are determined that the violence must stop and are working to make the country a better place to live in” Catholic priest Fr Nizar Semaan in Mosul, northern Iraq told Fides.
“Ever since the fall of the regime, despite continuing violence, Christian have continued to repair churches and other buildings and publish their own newspapers and magazines. They have even opened web sites on the Internet for pastoral activities and communications” Fr Nizar told Fides. “I am from the Christian village of Karakosh whose 25,000 people are all Christians. At the moment we are building a local Catholic radio station there while our 200 catechists are ready to start regular Summer Catechism classes for about 3,000 children”.
“So it is clear that Iraqi Christians are determined to stay in their country. Otherwise why repair damaged churches etc?” Fr Nizar told Fides. “It is true, some Christian families have fled, but they were mostly from Baghdad where things are much more difficult. However most of the families who chose to move away to another country have kept their houses and come back now and then” the priest said.
“Besides the need to guarantee security, supplies of electricity and water are also essential. In most of the country water and electricity are supplied only for a few hours a day and this is terrible with the Summer heat and temperatures as high as 50% centigrade” the priest said.
“I know infrastructures are among the preferred targets of terrorists but it is now two years since the regime fell and by this time the new administration should at least be able to guarantee the people regular supplies of water and electrical current” Fr. Nizar told Fides and underlining that better living conditions can help render the country more peaceful: “if the government fails to keep its promises it makes it all the easier for terrorists to keep their grip on the people”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 28/6/2005 righe 33 parole 406)