Iraqi archbishop demands government respect human rights

Rome, Jul 10, 2007 / 10:59 am (CNA).- Speaking to the Italian news agency SIR, Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk (Iraq) said this week the situation of the persecution of Christians in Iraq requires that “changes be made to religious education in schools, at home, and in general at places of worship, that the clergy be reformed and made more attentive to modern society and that respect for human rights be demanded of the government.”

“Terrorists attack all Iraqis without distinction of creed. Armed assaults, murders and kidnappings are daily realities,” the archbishop said.

“The agitators of the dissolved Baath party, the criminals that were part of the regime before the war, the Arab fighters (Moujahidin) and Muslim fundamentalists all want to prevent a democratic, pluralistic and modern Iraq. Criminals want money, party members want power, fundamentalists want to be the sole bearers of truth and therefore those who oppose them are intimidated,” he explained.

In this situation, the archbishop continued, Christians are “the first victims because they are seen as similar to Americans and because thus they have a certain level of well-being that makes them the target kidnappings.” However, he said, “The country can be rebuilt under the guidance of the UN.”