II International Conference on Christian Persecution Hungary, Budapest in 26-28 Nov 2019
First, I would like to express my sincere thanks for all that Hungary has done for the Iraqi Christians and is still doing to keep them in their homeland with a hope of having a better future. Iraqis are longing for stability and peace with dignity and freedom away from sectarianism, fundamentalism and partitions that divide them.
I echo the cry of Christians and other minorities’ concern with their hope of seeing the commitment and action of the international community.
Christians in the Arab countries have experienced intolerance, terrorism, and slaughter. They have an existential concern for years as a result of the uncontrolled violence against them. Christians in Iraq were about 1,876,500 (one million eight hundred and seventy-six thou sand and five hundred) before 2003. Currently, the number went down to less than half a million due to persecution and emigration.
As Christians have the right to keep their identity, live together with other citizens in peace, freedom and equality, they need to be aware of the importance of their presence and historical role in the region.
The suggested solutions may include:
- Building an open-minded pluralistic society that respects all citizens regardless of their religion and ethnicity. This can be achieved by having a civic, democratic and modern constitution that guarantees full citizenship for ALL CITIZENS leading to a harmonious coexistence.
- Eradicating religious fanaticism by prohibiting provocative speeches legally and removing extremist ideas from education programs that threaten national and even regional security. Also, by getting rid of the tribal and social practices and customs of the 7th Century, such as taking revenge and considering other religions as infidels.
- Benefitting from the Western experience in reforming and seeking a modern path towards securing, citizen rights and a hope for the future generations. This can be inspired by the “Document on Human Fraternity” signed in the UAE between Pope Francis and Al-Azhar’s Great Imam, Ahmed al-Tayeb as one of the landmarks for true conviviality.
- Focusing on restoring infrastructure, facilities as well as homes of the internally displaced families to assure their return. It would be also important to encourage investment in Nineveh Plain area by initiating project (especially, agriculture-related projects) to employ young people.