Ambassador to Holy See says nothing can eradicate Christians from Iraq

Rome, Jul 26, 2007 / 10:20 am (CNA).- The Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See, Albert Edward Ismail Yelda, said this week Christians in the that country “are the seeds of the land of Mesopotamia, and I don’t think there is a force on this earth strong enough to eradicate them.”

In an interview with the SIR news agency, Yelda spoke of the persecution of Christians in Iraq, “which the Holy See follows with particular concern.” He condemned “all of the atrocities committed against Christians in Iraq and other minorities by radical and extremist groups in collusion with and sustained by those who supported the former regime.”

“Islam as a religion is quite distant from these actions” that “seek to create chaos in order to undermine the new government’s efforts in the fight against terrorism, extremism and religious radicalism,” he stated.

Asked about the idea of creating a Christian enclave in Nineveh, the ambassador noted that “no plan exists for a separate zone for Christians. Most Christians in Iraq do not want it. They are spread out all over the country and have lived side by side with Shiites, Sunnis, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and other religious minorities. I hope they continue to peacefully coexist in the conservation and exercise of their own constitutional rights,” Yelda said.

“In order to have a secure Iraq,” he continued, “we must have a reliable security force that guarantees the protection of the borders, preventing terrorists from entering Iraq and killing innocent civilians.” In order to accomplish this, the country needs “more help from the international community,” greater “intelligence operations” with neighboring countries,” as well as “coordination with our government by the multinational forces in Iraq, including US troops, which should inform us of their political and military operations before carrying them out.”

Referring to relations between Iraq and Iran, Yelda said the two countries should work together “in benefit of their peoples.” “Normal relations between the United States and Iran will have positive repercussions in the political, social and economic aspects of Iraq and the entire region,” he added.

A stable and peaceful Iraq will bring stability to the entire Middle East, Yelda emphasized, and will contribute to “promoting the peace process, especially between Arab and Islamic states and the state of Israel,” he said.