Iraq’s ambassador to Vatican: We must quit discrimination mentality

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By Rudaw
Iraq’s ambassador to the Vatican Sheikh Omar Barzinji speaking to Rudaw TV.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — In light of a recent Christmas visit to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region by Vatican’s Secretary of State Iraq’s ambassador to the Holy See says that persecution of Christian’s has never been a government policy.

“We always tell the Vatican that the new Iraq and Kurdistan as well are a place for all beliefs,” Iraq’s Ambassador to the Vatican Omar Barzinji told Rudaw TV.

“I tell them that in Kurdistan not a single Christian has been hurt and I tell them that the Iraqi government has the same policy,” said the ambassador.

“Those who kill Christians are extremist groups,” Barzinji said. “Someone who has killed Christians has also killed Muslims and Yezidis. They are ISIS or carry their ideology.”

Barzinji who was deputy foreign minister said he had voluntarily asked to be posted as ambassador to the Vatican.

“I asked to be posted to the Vatican two years ago because I believe I could contribute to the dialogue of religions and that’s what I’ve been working on for two years.” Barzinji revealed.

The ambassador said that he had helped arrange Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s recent visit to Iraq and Kurdistan Region, adding that Iraq’s good relations with the Vatican will help its relations with other countries, too.

“We all have to look after the Christians,” Barzinji said, speaking of the Christians of Mosul and other parts of Iraq who have been driven from home by years of conflict.

“Don’t just look at Kurdistan,” he said. “They suffered a lot in Mosul. We all have to quit this discrimination mentality.”

The ambassador said that Islam and Christianity had a lot in common and “people just need to identify those points and use them for coexistence.”

Barzinji said that “The Vatican wants the situation in Iraq to improve and there not be any more crisis so that the Christians of this country can also live in peace.”