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Amid Mosul violence, Iraqi archbishop asks Obama to protect Christians

ICC Note

“Pressure needs to be put on [the] government in Iraq to respect the needs not only of Christians but all minorities.”

11/14/2008 Iraq (CNA)-The Latin-rite Archbishop of Baghdad Jean Sleiman has called on President-elect Barack Obama to make the protection of religious minorities in Iraq a priority for his administration. The request follows significant violence against Christians in Mosul .

Minority religious groups in Iraq are being politically marginalized, with the Iraqi parliament announcing a significant reduction in seats allotted for members of such groups for the upcoming elections. Recent allegations also claim political involvement in the October attacks on Christians in Mosul .

Archbishop Sleiman spoke by phone with the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need.

“It is very important that the U.S. should help protect minority rights in Iraq ,” he said. “Pressure needs to be put on [the] government in Iraq to respect the needs not only of Christians but all minorities.


The archbishop reported that Christians desperately needed increased security in Mosul , where at least 1,500 refugees have returned after weeks in displacement camps or other temporary residences. More than 15,000 fled Mosul last month after a surge of violence and intimidation.

On November 3 Iraq ’s parliament allocated only six of its more than 400 seats for religious minorities, with only three of those seats for Christian minorities. The six minority seats are a decrease from the fifteen originally planned.

“The political parties here are not concerned about the rights of minorities. They think more about their own tactics and strategies,” Archbishop Sleiman claimed.

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