ASIA/IRAQ - Heads of Churches and Christian communities in Iraq: the burning of the Koran in Stockholm is an "atrocious and despicable" act

Wednesday, 5 July 2023 middle east   oriental churches   sectaniarism   islam   islamophobia   koran  

Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - The burning of the Koran by a "young extremist" in front of the mosque in Stockholm is an "atrocious and despicable" act, which cannot in any way be explained by bringing into play slogans on freedom of expression. This was reiterated by the Heads of the Churches and ecclesial communities in Iraq, in a statement in which they added that the very act represents in itself disrespect for the freedom of multitudes of people, an incitement to religious hatred and an attack on peace among the peoples, given that with that gesture it inflamed the anger of Muslim believers all over the world. The Statement, issued by the Council of Christian-Church Leaders of Iraq (CCCL), concludes with an appeal to wise people and "peacemakers" around the world to promote in every way sentiments that foster coexistence and peace.
The Council of Heads of Churches and Christian Communities of Iraq is an ecumenical body established in 2010 and includes Patriarchs, Bishops and heads of the 14 Churches and Ecclesial Communities present in Iraq. The sacrilegious act committed in front of the Stockholm Mosque on 28 June continues to provoke concern and particularly heated public reaction in Iraq, also because the act was carried out by a 37-year-old refugee of Iraqi origin, Salwan Momika, who has lived in Sweden for many years. Representatives of the Iraqi government and judiciary have called on Swedish authorities to extradite him so that prosecutors can take the necessary measures to bring him to justice. The act of gratuitous offense against Islam arouses particularly sensitive reactions in Iraq's Christian communities, whose history has also been disseminated with so much suffering and martyrdom in recent decades. Momika, despite declaring himself as an atheist, comes from a Christian background and was born in Qaraqosh, a city with a Christian majority in the Nineveh Plain. The concern - as also emerges from comments collected among some Christians by the Kurdish media network - is that someone is trying to attribute to the Iraqi Christian communities some form of connivance with the burning of the Koran in Stockholm. This is why Momika's act was immediately deplored without appeal by leaders and exponents of Iraqi Christian communities. Mar Awa Royel, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, immediately after the burning of the Koran, issued a statement in which he described the act as the work of "an atheist of Iraqi origin", aimed at spreading hatred. Words of condemnation over the Stockholm burning also came from Christian political representatives such as Ano Abdoka, Minister of Transport and Communications of the Government of the Autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan.
In recent days even Pope Francis, in a conversation with Hamad Al-Kaabi, director of the United Arab Emirates newspaper Al-Ittihad, when asked about the burning of the Koran in Stockholm, said he was "outraged and disgusted by these actions". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 5/7/2023)