Baghdad – One month after the attack by Jihadists of the Islamic State caused the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from towns and villages of the Nineveh Plain, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq said Christians are now being threatened in Baghdad.
In a message made public Thursday, Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako expressed disappointment at the “visible incapacity of the governmental machine to guarantee order and respect for the law.”
"What hurts us most is the inability of the machinery of the government to impose law and order in front of the on-going and significant deterioration of security, which fosters a culture of violence that provides the extremist groups a favorable locale to expand, wrote Patriarch Sako, who is also president of the Iraqi Catholic bishops’ conference. "In Baghdad, Christians and others are kidnapped in armored and shaded cars in broad daylight, and are threatened to leave their houses, and harassed in some schools and in some public offices where they hear spiteful words."
The Patriarch lamented that while people are suffering "politicians are fighting for positions instead of being united to identify the causes that lead to extremism, violence and injustice, and to seek radical solutions before it is too late." He expressed hope that the new prime minister and the new government would "recognize this as their historical, national and moral responsibility."
His message lists a series of practical suggestions to overcome a creeping sense of fatality and powerlessness among the Iraqi people and institutions in the face of events in recent months. Among other things, Patriarch Sako urges Christians to form a crisis management team, to collect accurate information regarding the number and dislocation of refugee families, in order to demand from the government due compensation for damage and loss of property suffered at the hands of Jihadists and their supporters.
The message also suggests the formation of a committee for education, to censure the academic status and the numbers of displaced students, and then ask the government of Kurdistan to take them into their schools and universities to avoid loss of the school year.
Regarding the future of areas which have fallen under the control of the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate, the Patriarch suggests an appeal to the United Nations Security Council to form “a peace-keeping force to collaborate with Iraqi security forces and Kurdish peshmerga, to free the Plain of Nineveh” and guarantee the security necessary to enable refugees to return to their native villages, home of their forefathers “for thousands of years.”
In addition, he said it is necessary to “establish local police forces which include representatives of the different components present in the Plain of Nineveh, to protect the villages, as foreseen by the new law presented by the new government,” and in this way ensure social interaction between Christians and their fellow citizens.
The Patriarch also stresses the need to take strong initiatives with the Muslim world, which aim to stop any varnish of religious legitimization, of funds and militants sent to support Jihadist groups.
For the long term, according to Patriarch Sako, revision must begin for school and university programs, to favor the growth of a culture open to diversity, pluralism and equality among citizens, and to work as an antidote for any type of fanaticism clothed in religious justification.