The Chaldean archbishop of Amadiyah-Zakho (Kurdistan) talks to AsiaNews about the country’s situation after it was recently hit by a fresh wave of attacks that cost nearly 80 lives. For the prelate, political and religious leaders as well as ordinary people are seeking dialogue and peace, but attacks create instability and a desire for revenge. In Kurdistan, a murder attempt is carried out against a Christian lawmaker.
Amadiyah (AsiaNews) – “Iraq is still at the mercy of foreign terrorists; there is no security. Extremists in the pay of foreign countries exploit instability to stop people engaged in the politics of rebuilding the country,” said Mgr Rabban al-Qas, Chaldean bishop of the diocese of Amadiyah-Zakho, as he spoke about the recent bombings and targeted attacks against Christian politicians in Baghdad and Kirkuk.
For the prelate, the situation is dramatic all over the country, especially in the capital. “The climate of terror strikes everyone: Christians and Muslims, Sunnis and Shias. Anyone attempting to pursue a dialogue is targeted,” he noted.
On 20 and 21 September, two violent attacks caused nearly 80 deaths in Baghdad alone. The first struck a Sunni mosque in Samarra, a few kilometres from the capital, killing 18 and wounding 21. The second occurred in Sadr City (north of Baghdad) during a Shia funeral ceremony. Two bombs exploded in the middle of the procession, killing 73 people and seriously wounding at least 200.
An attack against a Christian politician was carried out instead in Rafidayn, Kirkuk province (Kurdistan), where terrorists blew up the flat of Emad Youhanna, a Christian lawmaker from the Assyrian Democratic Party. The attack did not kill anyone, but it injured about 50 people.
According to the authorities, the attackers are connected with Islamist parties opposed to the policies of Massoud Barzani, president of the autonomous region and leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party (DKP), a great supporter of the recent regional elections that allowed many Christians to take an active part in local politics.
“Foreign Islamist groups want the instability of Iraq,” Rabban said. “Their objectives are primarily political and religious. Their actions are meant to unleash chaos between communities.”
“For months, many members of the governing and opposition parties have organised meetings to find a solution to Iraq’s ten-year crisis,” the prelate said.
The latest occurred recently in the capital and brought together the representatives of religious and ethnic communities living in the city and province. Even the Church, on the initiative of the Chaldean Patriarch Mar Raphaël I Sako kicked off a series of meetings with Christian leaders to seek a common agenda to defend the rights of minorities and work for the good of the country.
For Mgr Rabban, Islamists have hindered precisely those attempts at reconciliation mainly brought about by Christians.
“The terrorists are doing everything possible to force the Christian population to flee Iraq. They need protection, [and] a reason not to flee. The Christian presence in Iraq is critical; their witness of faith, peace and reconciliation is a beacon for the Muslim population, which has now become polarised.” ( S.C. )