Iraqi cleric seeks world’s attention

bilde.jpgGregg Krupa / The Detroit News
SOUTHFIELD — The highest-ranking Chaldean cleric in Iraq called on the world to focus on the plight of Christian minorities amid the turmoil in his country, and he said that Muslims also have shared the pain of the violence that still shatters normal society under the American-led occupation. 

Cardinal Mar Emmanuel III Delly, 81, Patriarch of Babylon, spoke Tuesday in Metro Detroit among the largest Chaldean community outside of Iraq. He has remained in Iraq, despite injuries from shattered glass during an attack in 2007, amid the turmoil that many believe threatens the existence of the world’s oldest Christian community.

The violence against Christians, including the slayings of clerics, is often portrayed as Muslim aggression. But Delly offered a more nuanced explanation.

“I believe that the radical Islamic fundamentalists are not being true to the true Islam and the Qur’an,” he said, as he spoke through an interpreter in the office of the St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Diocese. “If they were to be more true, then they would be more tolerant. But most Muslims, of course, do not accept or condone what their radical co-religionists do, in their name.”

All Iraqis were better off before the American-led invasion and occupation, he said, citing recent statements by President Bush and former administration officials “who admit that mistakes have been made.”

“This lack of security has affected the Muslim community, also,” he said. “But we feel the impact more because we are a smaller community, without protection.”

Joseph Kassab, executive director of the Chaldean Federation of America, in Farmington Hills, said, “He is the only one who has not yet moved his chair from Iraq. He is very resilient