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ICC Note: Many Christians in the States et al have been crying out for a special area to be set up a special province in Iraq for Christians. This article from Asia News brings up significant problems with that idea.

The Plains of Niniveh, a Trap for Iraqi Christians!
by Louis Sako

On the eve of the meeting between the Pope and President Bush, the Archbishop of Kirkuk analyses the risks of the project to assign Christians an autonomous region in the Plains of Niniveh, a solution already rejected by authoritative figures in the Vatican .

Iraq (for the full story, go to AsiaNews) – Christians will not be saved by closing them up in a ghetto. Quite the contrary. The plan for an autonomous Assyrian zone in Iraq , advanced by politicized circles in the country and abroad, only risks worsening the situation.

The Plains of Nineveh contain a series of Christian villages (approximately twenty), in which most people speak the Syriac dialect known as “Sureth.” The area has always been under the jurisdiction of Mosul – about 30-25 km away – which is the area’s cultural, commercial and ecclesiastic hub.
The Plains are surrounded by Arab, Shedac, Yezidi and Kurdish villages. Some 120,000 Christians live there.

But Christians, whose presence in Iraq has been cut in half due to the forced exodus, must abandon this risky ghetto project. As Christians, we must have a presence everywhere, to witness our identity among others. Our Church has never been nationalist or closed in an ethnic sense; it instead has always embraced peoples and nations, achieving its apex in Mesopotamia, in the Arab Gulf countries and going even as far as China .

To ensure a better future in Iraq , we must:

1. Work together, Christians of all rites and denominations, to unite our position and make our political considerations effective in the daily reality. This means working for the reconciliation of Iraqis, collaborating with religious authorities and with parties. Dialogue, reconciliation and encouraging a culture of peace: this is our mission today;

2. Set out the facts on our historical role in the construction of Iraq , our willingness to live and collaborate with everyone for the unity of the country, refusing to be identified with the “invaders.”

3. Work together as a unified group for amendments to the text of the Iraqi and Kurdish Constitution.

Lastly, the Christian diaspora and all Churches are invited to work not on propaganda but on concretely helping Christians who have emigrated to Syria , Jordan , Lebanon , and also to created institutions and jobs in the new villages of the north to give hope and a way to make a living to refugee families.