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ICC Note: Here’s a follow up piece to the appeal from Monsignor Sako’s appeal on behalf of Iraqi Christians.

Iraqi Christians disappearing fast

4/25/07 Iraq (for the full story, go to Spero News) An appeal went out from the Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk: an Iraq bereft of Christians is of no benefit to needed unity in the country. Bombings take toll among Christians and other minorities.
AsiaNews reported on an appeal made by Monsignor Sako, on behalf of the Christian communities, on the unsustainable situation of Christians in the country: “We cannot remain silent any longer, people must be made aware that an Iraq without Christians is of no benefit to the nation, we need unity between people, otherwise there will be no escape”. Attacks on the Nineveh plain show that nowhere is safe.

“In Iraq Christians are dying, the Church is disappearing under continued persecution, threats and violence carried out by extremists who are leaving us no choice: conversion or exile”. This is the urgent appeal sent to AsiaNews by Monsignor Louis Sako, Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, while reports arrive of car bombs and the death of Christians in the Kurdish area, until now untouched by the religious violence.

The bishop who is president of Iraq’s Council of Catholic Churches’ Committee for inter religious dialogue , signed a declaration regarding the “tragic situation of Baghdadis Christians”, denouncing militant groups which under the threat of armed violence ask Christians to convert immediately to Islam or to consign their property and leave the country. The same thing happens in Mosul, but with a different “choice”: pay a monetary tribute to the Jihad if they want to avoid their death.

In the last two days, as the controversial plan to install a secure zone for Christians in the Nineveh plain begins to take shape, the terrorists have begun targeting the zoned area. “It’s almost a political gesture – observes Monsignor Sako – as if to say: “we can hit anywhere, nowhere is safe”.

However in the current situation Christians are targeted as chief conspirators to be exploited or eliminated. They cannot openly profess their faith, the veil is imposed on the women and the crosses are taken down from their churches, threats of kidnappings and extortion weigh heavily over all of them, said the prelate.

The appeal signed by Monsignor Sako urges all of the political, religious and cultural communities of Iraq to remain united, because “there is no salvation without our unity. Let the outsider whoever is he, leave and stay away so that the danger of death and the risk of division disappear and vanish and thus permitting life to return to what it once was; a river which flowed in harmony, a river of brotherhood and close unity”.