Chaldean Patriarch and Speaker of Parliament: Christians essential to Iraq’s future

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by Joseph Mahmoud
Salim al-Jubouri met Mar Sako and expresses solidarity and closeness to the Christian victims of violence. Sources of the Chaldean Patriarchate speak of “historic visit” that instills “new confidence”. The Church asks Christmas be recognized as a “national holiday”. New violence in Baghdad, five people dead and 20 wounded in a series of attacks.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Appreciation for the role played by the Chaldean Patriarchate in the promotion of peace and coexistence; a strong condemnation of the violence against Christians in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain, where about 500 thousand people have fled as a result of the advance of the Islamic State, which has founded a caliphate and imposed Sharia law.

This was the outcome of a meeting between Mar Louis Raphael I Sako and the Speaker of the Iraqi parliament Salim al-Jubouri (pictured). On the evening of November 15 a delegation of senior Baghdad officials, led by the Speaker of Parliament, visited the headquarters of the Chaldean Patriarchate to express solidarity and closeness to the Christian community. He also assured the support of the Assembly and the government for the religious minority, the victim of Islamist militia violence.

His Beatitude expressed gratitude for the initiative describing it as a concrete sign of the Baghdad government’s “solidarity” and “closeness” with Christians, “chased” from their homes and forced to survive in “tragic circumstances”. Mar Sako added that the high level visit shows that “the Parliament Speaker does not only represent Muslims” but “all citizens”.

Sources of the Chaldean Patriarchate told AsiaNews that it is “certainly a historic visit,” which “gives a renewed sense of confidence” to the displaced Christian families, forced from their homes because of the advance of the Islamic State. His Beatitude at the same time stressed the importance of the efforts put in place to restore security in the country and halt “the threat of more land expropriation and other victories” by the Islamist militias.

Mar Sako – who yesterday also met the President of the Republic Fuad Masum – filed an official request for “the feast of Christmas to be recognized in an official capacity” and “a holiday for all Iraqi citizens.” Jubouri assured that will do everything he can to make it happen.

Over the weekend, Iraqi security forces have regained control of the Baiji refinery, an important center of oil extraction halfway between Baghdad and Mosul. It produces over a quarter of all Iraqi oil; the center had fallen into the hands of extremists in June, in the context of the offensive that led to the occupation of large areas of land. However, the violence that plagues the nation shows no sign of abating. A series of explosions took place yesterday in the capital killing five people and wounding 20; one of the objectives of the attacks, claimed by IS militia, was the Capital’s International Airport.