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Iraq’s prime minister encourages Christians to return

IRAQ CHRISTIANS
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Mustafa Al-Kazemi calls Christians “the original children of the country” and pledges assistance.

Christians are the “original children of the country,” said the Prime Minister of Iraq, Mustafa Al-Kazemi.

Al-Kazemi encouraged Christians who left Iraq in recent years to return to their homeland, Vatican News said, citing a report in the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA).

Al-Kazemi on Sunday met with Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, and a number of other bishops in Baghdad. The patriarch said there are a large number of Christians who want to return.

“The Church supports Al-Kazemi’s steps towards achieving security and stability throughout Iraq,” said Patriarch Sako. “Christians are proud of their Iraqi identity, and they feel more reassured, in light of the serious handling of the Al-Kazemi government with the Christian file.”

According to a government statement, the prime minister said that “Iraq is the country for everyone, and that Christians are the original children of the country, and there is no difference between the people of the same country, as everyone is a partner in building the future of Iraq.” AINA reported that he said he was serious about providing assistance to Christian families and solving their problems.

“We are glad that Christians will return to Iraq and contribute to its reconstruction. Iraqis of all sects are yearning for a new Iraq that believes in peace and rejects violence,” said the prime minister, who assumed office May 7.

The Christian community in Iraq has been under pressure for years, but the invasion of the Islamic State group in 2014 made things even worse. Aid to the Church in need recently issued a report warning that the Christian population could dwindle to 23,000 in the next four years. Many fear that ISIS is planning a comeback and are hesitant to return to their homes.

 

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