Sunday, May 27, 2007


Iraqi government pledges to protect Christians

(AsiaNews) - The Iraqi government has expressed its solidarity to the Christians of Baghdad and has pledged to protect them. In a statement in English reported yesterday by the AINA news agency, a spokesman for the Iraqi government said that the "Iraqi Cabinet addressed the issue of threats and expulsions of Christian families in Baghdad by terrorist groups. The Cabinet expressed its full support to provide all necessary assistance needed to protect them, and provide any assistance to face this threat that is rejected by our orthodox Islamic religion and the forgiving Iraqi society, between all of its components--especially the relationship with our Christians brothers."
Iraqi Christians, both at home and abroad, have welcomed the government's statement, which they have been waiting for a long time following many complaints by bishops and the clergy. They note however that the statement is only about intentions and that it does not contain any concrete steps to limit the campaign of persecution directed at the Christian community in the capital and Mosul. These two cities are at present the most affected by violence, threats and abuses, including seizure of property and forced conversion to Islam.
Similarly, Muslims are coming to the defence of their 'Christian brothers' in two ways. On the one hand, there are secular groups, unarmed and with no political influence, who in Baghdad have organised some protection for persecuted Christian families, including giving them refuge in their own homes; on the other, there are Muslim religious leaders who are speaking out against bloodshed regardless of faith. This is the case of the secretary general to the grand mufti of Iraq who in a signed message said: "We hear with sadness and distress about what is happening to our Christian brothers in Iraq. We [. . .] incriminate the perpetrator (sic)."
A few days ago, Shia leader Hussain Sadr also spoke about the issue. In an interview to a Christian satellite channel, he expressed his solidarity vis-à-vis his "Christian" brothers and all of Iraq's minorities.

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