Patriarch Sako: Christians are Oppressed
Below is the speech of His Beatitude Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako at the “Recital” on Friday the 20th of July 2018 at the National Iraqi Theater in Baghdad:
I would like to express my joy, for we are gathered here, Christians, Muslims, Sabean Mandaeans and Yazidis at this national theater, which is one of the well-known cultural “centres” in Iraq. I hope nobody forgets that we Christians whose Churches are the most ancient in history, and together with other minorities are heirs of the Mesopotamian Civilization and its’ treasured heritage. We are descendants of those, to whom humanity owes a lot starting from Gilgamish down to Hamurabi.
We were the majority on this land when we extended our hands to welcome Muslims upon their arrival to Iraq and lived together for Centuries. Furthermore, Iraqi Christians contributed to the formation of the Abbasid civilization. They were pioneer doctors, Theologians-philosophers and translators who transmitted Greek sciences to Arabic and “Beit al-Hikma” is the proof.
So, we have a history of harmonic coexistence in good and bad times. However, it saddens us to see that Iraqi Christian heritage is neglected and not even a “single” line in the schools’ curricula pointing out the contribution of Christians to Iraq’s civilization and culture.
Since the fall of the past regime in 2003, the situation of Iraqi Christians and other minorities is going from bad to worse, as a result of the unfairness in daily practices as well as targeting their lives, properties and heritage.
Additionally, the failure of successive Governments to stand firm by Christians’ side to protect them, one million Christians emigrated and left behind a threatened “Christian minority” whose anguish created a hazy image about the “unknown future”.
The general situation of Iraqi crisis is really miserable due to the non-transparent elections, corruption, deterioration of services, unemployment, poverty, spread of diseases and the delay in forming the new Government.
All these factors are “worries” and reasons urging people to protest. I hope that the protestors will keep their demonstrations peaceful rather than being dragged into destroying private properties and/or state institutions. Otherwise, the impacts will be more complicated.
I call upon the Government to contain the problem before it leads Iraq to a “dark tunnel” whose consequences may not be tolerated. It is advisable to protect the protestors by having a civilized dialogue with them and responding to their demands as much as possible, to sustain the victory achieved on ISIS and to prevent the investment of this “national movement” on favor of “bad people”, creating chaos in Iraq “God forbid”.
The time has come to: give up personal or “ethnically sorted” ambitions and interests; listen carefully to the voice of reason and responsibility; deepen national loyalty; and think seriously about people worries and concerns.
Since religion and violence are incompatible, the time has come for leaders of all religions and ethnicities to become an actual national “symbols” supporting community reconciliation, peace, stability, and eradicating extremism and violence.
The time has come to form a civil national Iraqi Government, which gathers all components of the Iraqi nation and treat them equally, to stop the threat of implementing evil projects on our beloved land.
Finally, we ask God to enlighten all minds and protect Iraq.