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AINA Damascus (AsiaNews) — Respect for Christians in Iraq and in general, all those in the Middle East , who “enrich the Arab world” of which they are an integral part. This is the request which comes from a meeting of Catholic and Orthodox priests, who gathered in Damascus at the behest of the secretary for the Federation of Christian Minorities, Habib Hephrem, following the attacks carried out on churches in Baghdad and Kirkuk .

In the wake of Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir’s appeal to the conscience of those in power to protect the Christian minorities, who “enrich the Arab world of which they are part” and the condemnation of the Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel Delly, who defined the acts as “far from true Islam” and a “provocation to hate and revenge”, today in Damascus a group of Catholic and Orthodox priests united their voices in denouncing the violence. Brought together at the request of secretary for the Federation of Christian Minorities, Habib Hephrem, they denounced these inhuman and terrorist acts, which they say, mark the face of the Arab world, land of religions and civilizations.
This violence they add, aims to drive Christians from the land that was home to their forefathers. The priests appealed to the US led coalition forces present in Iraq to take on the responsibility of protecting and defending the Christian presence in the country, from whence thousands flee towards Jordan and Syria . They also expressed their wish that the civil rights of the Christian minorities be respected. The need to find a way to face the mounting pressure Christians are placed under was also highlighted, pressures for example, regarding marriage and chador, which some authorities try to impose on Christian girls, or that of the total ban on alcohol…

Saadi El Maleh, university professor and journalist, speaking to AsiaNews, maintains that the attacks were in answer to the continued presence of foreign troops in the country. To his mind, there is “the danger of a probable mass exodus of Christians, who are threatened because they are protected by the west, which in itself is not true, it is because they are Christians”.

by Jihad Issa