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Muslims in Baghdad Express Solidarity With Christians

Christians displaced from Mosul

AP

Aleteia - published on 07/21/14 - updated on 06/08/17

ISIS worse than Ghengis Khan, says Chaldean patriarch.

A group of about 200 Muslims joined Christians in solidarity in front of the Chaldean Church of St. George Sunday to condemn the attacks on the Christian community in Mosul carried out by the Islamic State.

Some Muslims held up signs or wore shirts with the words "I am Iraqi, I am Christian," written on them. Others marked themselves with a “nun,” the first letter of the Arabic word for Christian, "Nasrani" or Nazarene. The Islamic State has been putting “nuns” on Christian property marked out for seizure.

The Chaldean faithful who joined them after Mass sang the national anthem along with them, as Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans Louis Raphael I Sako thanked them: "This brings hope for a new Iraq. I think especially of the young people, who have the task and the duty to change the situation."

During the Mass, Patriarch Sako said that Islamic State militants who drove Christians out of Mosul were worse than Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu who ransacked medieval Baghdad, according to Reuters. "The heinous crime of the Islamic State was carried out not just against Christians, but against humanity," he said. "This has never happened in Christian or Islamic history. Even Genghis Khan or Hulagu didn’t do this."

Hulagu Khan led a Mongol army which sacked Baghdad in 1258, killing tens of thousand of people, destroying a caliphate which lasted nearly 600 years and leaving the city in ruins for centuries.

According to the patriarch, it "is a shame and a crime to force innocent people from their homes and confiscate their properties because they are ‘different,’ because they are Christians. The whole world must rebel against these abominable acts."

Christians, he said, "love Muslims and consider them our brothers and sisters; they must do the same. We are all equal in dignity, all citizens of the same country. We must unite to create a new Iraq."

Outside, Christians prayed the Our ​​Father and the Muslims the sura al Fatiha, the summary of the Muslim creed from the Quran.

Meanwhile, Auxiliary Bishop of the Chaldean Patriarchate Shlemon Warduni called for an international response. "The world must act, speak out, consider human rights," he said, adding that the Iraqi state was weak and divided and Muslim leaders had remained silent.

"We haven’t heard from clerics from all sects or from the government," he told Reuters on Sunday. "The Christians are sacrificed for Iraq."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki condemned the treatment of the Christians and what he described as attacks on churches in Mosul, saying it showed "the extreme criminality and terrorist nature of this group," according to Reuters. He said he instructed a government committee set up to support displaced people across Iraq to help the Christians who had been made homeless, but did not say when the army might try to win back control of Mosul.

"What is being done by the Daesh terrorist gang against our Christian citizens in Ninevah province, and their aggression against the churches and houses of worship in the areas under their control reveals beyond any doubt the extremist criminal and terrorist nature of this group," al-Maliki said in a statement released by his office, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned "the systematic persecution of minority populations in Iraq by Islamic State and associated armed groups," in particular the recent threats against Christians in Mosul, according to a statement released Sunday.

He also said the U.N. would intensify its efforts to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the displaced.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility late Saturday for four bombings in Baghdad which were among a string of attacks that killed at least 27 people earlier in the day. It said two of the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers — Abu al-Qaaqaa al-Almani and Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Shami. The names indicate they were German and Syrian respectively.
The authenticity of the Islamic State group’s statement could not be independently verified, but it was posted on a militant website frequently used by it.

One Christian who left Mosul last week described how he fled with his family when he learned of the Islamic State deadline. "We gathered all our belongings and headed for the only exit. There was a checkpoint on the road and they were stopping cars there," 35-year-old Salwan Noel Miskouni said, according to a Reuters report.

When the militants saw they were Christians, they demanded gold and money. The family initially said they had none, one of the fighters took their four-year-old son by the hand and threatened to abduct him.

"My sister emptied her entire handbag with our money and gold and her ID. They let the car pass and the child go," Miskouni said.

A few Christian families had stayed on, he said, hiding with Muslim neighbors who gave them shelter. But for now, he saw no possibility of returning with his family.

"If (the Islamic State) leaves we will probably go back but if they stay it’s impossible – because they will slaughter us."

Below is the text of a letter sent from Patriarch Raphael Louis I Sako to Muslims and "all those who care about national unity," reprinted from AsiaNews

To the people of conscience and good will in Iraq and the world,

To the voice of the moderates, our Muslim brothers and sisters in Iraq and the world,

To all concerned about the continuation of Iraq as a nation for all its citizens,

To all leaders, thinkers, and human rights activists,

To all defenders of the dignity of the human person and the freedom of religions,

Peace and God’s Mercy

The takeover of the Islamist jihadists of Mosul and their announcement of an Islamic state, and after days of composure and anticipation, the situation had turned negative on the Christians of the city and surrounding areas. The first signs of this reversal were the kidnapping of the two nuns and three orphans who were released after 17 days. We were encouraged by this development and we considered it a glimmer of hope, and a breakthrough. Only to be surprised by the latest developments,   the Islamic state issued a statement calling on Christians openly to convert to Islam, and either pay Jizya without specifying a ceiling, or leave their city and their homes, with their clothes only, without any luggage, and issued a "fatwa" that the homes will become the property to the Islamic state. They have marked the letter "N" on the homes of Christians for "Nazarenes"!!! As they have marked on the homes of Shiites with the letter (R) for "Rejectors." Who knows what is holding in the coming days as the laws of the Islamic state is based on what they claim to be the Sharia law, including the redefinition of identities on the basis of religion and sectarianism.

These requirements offend Muslims and the reputation of Islam, which says "you have your religion and we have ours," and "There is no compulsion in religion," and it is in contradiction of 1400 years of history and a lifetime of the Islamic world, and coexistence with different religions and different peoples, east and west, respecting their beliefs and living in fraternity. The Christians  and in particular in our East, and since the advent of Islam, have shared together sweet and bitter memories, their bloods were mixed in defense of their rights and their land, and together they built cities, civilization and heritage. It is shameful that Christians are being rejected, expelled and diminished. It is obvious that this would have disastrous consequences on the coexistence between the majority and the minorities, even among Muslims themselves, in the near and long term. Hence, Iraq is heading to a humanitarian, cultural, and historical disaster.

Therefore we call unto them, a warm, brotherly, urgent and serious call, and we appeal to our fellow Iraqis who support them to reconsider their strategy, and respect the unarmed innocent people, of all ethnicities, religions and sects. The Quran commands respect to the innocent and does not call to seize the property of people forcibly, it calls on helping the widow, the orphan, the destitute and the defenseless, and even recommends to help the seventh neighbor. We also call on Christians in the region to adopt rationality and acumen, and calculate their options well and understand what is planned for the area, and come together in love and think through together and in solidarity to build confidence in themselves and their neighbors, gathering around their Church, being patient, enduring and praying until the storm passes. 

+ Louis Raphael I Sako

Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church 

Tags:
IraqIslamIslamist Militants
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