Patriarch Sako calls for a national covenant against extremism and violence

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by Louis Raphael Sako*
The Chaldean cardinal’s proposal is directed at the president, the prime minister and the speaker of the Council of Representatives (parliament). It is based on the principles of citizenship, law and institutions. Sovereignty, security and economy are its “red lines”, a common basis for overcoming tensions, divisions and encouraging reconciliation.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Card Louis Raphael Sako, is proposing a ‘National Covenant’ as a common basis for all of the country’s groups, Shias, Sunnis, Christians, founded on sovereignty, security and economy, to overcome the divisions, violence and extremism that have stained Iraq with blood.

The Chaldean primate’s message was published on the Chaldean patriarchate website and sent to AsiaNews for wider circulation. In it, the cardinal says that the country’s problems can be solved only from within, starting with a document that will serve as a “pledge” by all the parties involved to create a state “based on citizenship, law and institutions”.

Here is Patriarch Sako’s message.

For a National Covenant

His Excellency President of the Republic of Iraq Dr. Barham Salih

Your Excellency,

I put forward to your Excellency a national proposal entitled “National Covenant” that may help us getting out of the current crises. The focus is on certain important “red lines” such as sovereignty, security and economy that should protect our homeland and its’ unity.

As I am so enthusiastic about the revival of Iraq “the Cradle of Civilization”, I call upon the three presidencies to organize a “round-table” meeting, where political and parliamentary alliances gather for a civil and responsible dialogue, which will lead to reconciliation; forgiveness; and understanding, away from regional and international tensions, differences and shattering. Especially that the current ministerial cabinet is not complete yet and people are still waiting to be provided with services (electricity, water… etc.).

Certainly, the solution should be internal, means Iraqis should solve their own problems. It is possible to do that, based on the good will, and when we rely on a “National Covenant” founded on: sovereignty, security, economy, the interest of the nation and its unity. Such document will serve as a “pledge” for all parties, enabling them to build, in a sound manner, a state of, citizenship, law and institutions, away from quotas (sectarianism) and disputes over power and money. It is also important to eliminate extremism that weakens the state; stops its’ progress; violates the dignity of citizens; and delays the availability of services.

Iraqis of all ethnicities and religions will definitely “derive” from this document: mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and solidarity. Ultimately, they will stand firm and steadfast, facing all those who may offend them.

National unity does not mean, at all, the removal of differences of view that are natural, but it helps people to accept each other and live in harmony. This way, we will be able to keep up with the rest of the civilized world.

I hope that your Excellency will share this idea with the Prime Minister and the Parliamentary Leader.

* Patriarch of the Chaldean Church and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Iraq