Saturday, October 29, 2016

Chaldean Patriarch: A multicultural Mosul, for peace and reconciliation in Iraq

http://www.asianews.it/files/img/IRAQ_-_sako_su_mosul.jpgMosul the "tenacious" before the rise of the Islamic State was an "Iraq in miniature", a "crossroads" of ethnicities, religions, different cultures and dialects and colorful customs. And its inhabitants made up "a beautiful mosaic" enriched by the presence of Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmen, Shiites, Chabak, Christians, Yazidis and Sabeans.

These are the words of the Chaldean Patriarch Mar Raphael Louis Sako in a letter addressed to the Iraqi community shared with AsiaNews, which speaks of the Northern metropolis before the arrival of Daesh [Arabic acronym for the IS] and trace the city's future and the plain of Nineveh. All ethnic groups and cultures, he points out, have "suffered so much" under the jihadist rule and "we hope that this diversity [...] will not be wiped out”.
The Chaldean primate urges support "for our armed forces" who are struggling for the liberation of Mosul and the plain. He hopes at the same time that "the battle" is "a point of change [for Mosul] and all of Iraq." The military offensive, adds the prelate, "has managed to unite all Iraqis with a high-level of coordination" and should be the basis and example for how we can "push hard for national reconciliation."

On the morning of October 18, a coalition of 30 thousand men, including Iraqi soldiers and Kurdish Peshmerga militia, joined by Sunni tribal forces, began an offensive to retake Mosul, the jihadist stronghold in Iraq, and the plain of Nineveh. According to US military sources, the Daesh fighters are using civilians as human shields.

In Mosul, are at least 700 thousand people trapped and unable to escape, hostage to 5 thousand jihadists who are fighting in defense of their fort. In recent days the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga have already taken control of some historical villages of the Christian tradition of the Nineveh plain, including Qaraqosh and Bartella.

In his reflection Mar Sako also appeals to dignitaries, rulers and socio-political leaders in Mosul and the plain, to operate in coordination with the central government for the future of the region. The Chaldean primate outlines four essential points, the founding pillars of the reconstruction not only of the northern metropolis, but of the whole country. He speaks of the need for a "comprehensive reorganization of the city and the province, with a general and participatory agreement of all components. Mosul, adds, should be "an example to be applied to all other parts of liberated Iraq ". Furthermore, he asks that "the needs" of the people be met and that basic services guaranteed fighting "against corruption, that feeds divisions" to "prevent religious, social and political discrimination."

Christians are "the second largest religion after Islam in Iraq," Mar Sako continues in his reflection and Mosul is "surrounded" by a myriad of "Christian villages." The Christian component "had a huge role in cooperating with the Muslims for the benefit of other parts of the country" and "have given so much to Iraq". Today, after the drama lived in Mosul and the plain, they "need to be welcomed and to see their rights protected [...] and not to be marginalized."

In this sense, Chaldean primate warns they must regain their sense of "trust in their neighbors." Despite the critical situation, he adds, "we continue to arm ourselves with faith and hope for the future" as mentioned by Pope Francis Sunday, October 23 at the Angelus, that Iraq can move towards a future of "security, peace and reconciliation. "

Expressing solidarity "with the families who have lost a dear one," the Chaldean patriarch urges citizens and the ruling class to "build" a state of law, which is based on "true principles" and "equality", which defends the inhabitants, their freedom and their dignity. "A state that respects religion – he concludes - and does not try to politicize it or distort it for their own ends" and which knows how to build "balanced relations with its neighbors" in the Middle East.

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