ASIA/IRAQ - Chaldean Patriarch Sako: Iraqi Christians are true patriots, they are not a "minority" of "infidels"

Monday, 6 June 2022 middle east   oriental churches   islam   discrimination   citizenship   religious minorities  

Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - Iraqi Christians represent an indigenous community, present in the lands of Mesopotamia well before the birth of Islam. They, with their dedication and creativity, have contributed in a decisive way to the original civilization that developed in the region, and the definition that labels them as "infidels" and "polytheists" is an offense to humanity and also to intelligence, definition also traceable on texts and digital platforms of the national education system. The Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako points out this in an extensive analysis focused on the problems and opportunities that characterize the daily life of Iraqi Christian communities in the current historical phase. The broad analysis, sent to Fides, is offered by the Patriarch as a contribution to start a discussion with exponents and representatives of other local ecclesial groups, in view of a possible conference dedicated to the emergencies that tire the life of Christian communities in the Middle East and jeopardize their millennial presence in that region of the world.

In his contribution, among other things, the Patriarch reiterates that "since the fall of the previous regime, in April 2003, a normal political life has not yet seen the light in Iraq, given the continuous failures of governments in achieving what the people need". The Primate of the Chaldean Church also criticizes the fact that the Constitution cites only Islam as the source of legislation, offering the legal basis for political and social practices that inevitably end up discriminating against Christians and members of other faith communities as "secon-class citizens". The mentality that aims to impose a religion on consciences - underlines Cardinal Sako - does not favor respect, coexistence and tolerance". The Patriarch acknowledges that in past times even Christianity paid its pledge to this mentality, adding that now any speech that instigates discrimination, exclusion and hatred among citizens for reasons related to religious sectarianism "should be legally condemned".
In this regard, the Patriarch also criticizes the conception that identifies the various faith communities as separate 'components' of Iraqi society, a conception that "nourishes tribal and sectarian identities, and does not help to establish a modern nation state" founded on the principles of citizenship and equal rights. "Christians" insists Patriarch Sako "are indigenous Iraqis and are not a community from another country. They are people of this land, so it is not acceptable to label them as a 'minority' ". Radical criticisms are reserved by the Patriarch to the so-called 'Christian parties', the small Iraqi political acronyms created by individual Christians and groups of the baptized who aspire to present themselves as political projections of local Christian communities. "These parties" writes Cardinal Sako "serve only to foment regional nationalisms. Consequently, they failed in the center and the region to play their real role in achieving cohesion between Christian “groups” in finding a unified name and investing their presence as one team for the benefit of Iraq and Christians in general". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 6/6/2022)