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Chaldean Patriarch: Christians persecuted by Iraqi government

ICC Note: Iraqi Christians continue to flee as Muslims try to force them to convert

5/9/07 Iraq For full story…..(AsiaNews) – The Patriarch for the Chaldeans, Emmanuel III Delly, has come out with a strong accusation against the Iraqi authorities and has called for decisive intervention from the government and international community to stop the haemorrhage of persecuted Christians from Iraq . Shortly after returning from a long stay in the United States, the head of the Chaldean Church denounced, for the first time since the beginning of the war, the sins of politicians and armies against the people, emphasizing the worrying conditions that Christians are in, threatened with extinction. “Christians are killed, chased out of their homes before the very eyes of those who are supposed to be responsible for their safety,” Delly said forcefully from the altar of the church of Mar Qardagh in Erbil, Kurdistan , where he celebrated Mass on 6 May. The persecution campaign undertaken by Muslim extremists in big cities as well as in villages has prompted the Iraqi clergy and bishops to make several appeals in recent months for the unity of the country and the rights of their community, which has always been a fundamental part of Iraqi society.

Delly gathered these appeals and made them once again in loud voice: “Today, Christians are persecuted in a country where everyone is fighting for their own personal interests. They have always lived in Iraq and over the years they have done everything possible to contribute to its development together with their Muslim brothers.” Delly said Christians would surely fight to ensure respect for their rights as Iraqis on regional level as well as that of the central government.

In his address, he described the two-fold nature of the persecution: internal and external. “Internal persecution is that perpetrated by Iraqis themselves, who are chasing Christians out of their homes and lands. Responsible for this persecution are all those in power who did nothing and are doing nothing to stop this tragedy. External persecution is that which has affected the very dignity of all the Iraqi people, whose mosques, churches and institutions have been destroyed or occupied, without any respect for their faith.”