Mosul 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
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.