Feature – Arab Spring worries Mid-East Christians

0922-ar-l1.jpgthe Maronite Patriarch, Béchara Raï, in Lebanon, and now, the Chaldean Archbishop in Kirkuk, Louis Sako, in Iraq. The development of the Arab spring are causing concern to leaders of Eastern Christian communities, who have by now started to openly express their fears with regard to an rise in Islamic radicalism in the New Middle East.

“The Arab Spring has created more Muslim militants,” the Iraqi Archbishop, Sako complained, pointing out the risk of the thousand year old Middle Eastern culture of pluralism, crumbling. But the West too has made a mistake: “Instead of trying to impose the western model of democracy, they need to invest in youngsters’ education,” Kirkuk’s Chaldean spiritual leader commented.

Archbishop Sako has, already, on several occasions, made lively appeals to the International community, asking it to protect Christians in Iraq who “risk extinction”. Indeed, “in Iraq, the number of Christians continues to drop. They could disappear altogether as a result of continuous persecution, threats and violence.”

Between America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 and today, there have been attacks on about sixty Churches; one bishop and three priests have been kidnapped and killed; approximately a thousand innocent Christians have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced to abandon their homes in search of safety. This is why, “in Iraq and in other Countries, there is a risk of the Christian community becoming extinct.”

What is worrying the prelate the most is “the lack of a plan”, when Christians in Iraq and the Middle East have two options:”They can either emigrate or accept life as second rate citizens amidst numerous difficulties and fears.” Hence the appeal: “We are in need of stronger support from everyone, with a clear political vision and clearly set out plans, not just to protect and encourage Christians to stay in their country, but also to promote reconciliation among the Iraqis, and human rights,” as well as to “ensure governments respect the rules.”

According to Monsignor Sako, “the international community needs to assume responsibility” and “come to a mutual agreement with local authorities” in order to guarantee equal protection and equality between all citizens. The international community must also “help emigrants to return” or, if this is not possible, they should help them remain settled wherever they have found shelter.

– Giacomo Galeazzi