Maliki offers Iraqi Christians protection

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 BAGHDAD, July 30 (UPI) — The Iraqi government will offer protection to the threatened Christian community in northern Iraq, the prime minister said Wednesday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Baghdad will ensure Iraqi Christians are protected, following a meeting with the head of the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Babylon, Emmanuel III Delly, Voices of Iraq reported.

“Maliki asserted to Delly his government’s keenness to protect Iraqi Christians and provide them with all services to make them feel secure and stable in their country,” a government statement read.

In early July a group calling itself “The Battalion of Just Punishment, Jihad Base in Mesopotamia” issued a series of threats against Christian churches in northern Iraq.

The meeting with Cardinal Delly follows an earlier visit by the Iraqi premier with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.

Maliki said he would push for a multireligious conference in Iraq to gather church leaders from around the world to highlight the “brotherhood in Iraq,” the government statement said.

In response to the growing threat to their community, Christian leaders in Iraq have established armed militias in northern Nineveh province and announced earlier this month they may form a coalition to run in the provincial council elections.

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