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In the “new” Iraq , a strategy to eliminate Christians

ICC Note

In the interview he gave, Professor Joseph Yacoub of the Catholic University of Lyon, spoke about the danger faced by Christians in Iraq .

By Dario Salvi

12/02/2008 Iraq (AsiaNews) – He does not hide his deep concern for Iraq and the future of the Christian community there, Joseph Yacoub, an Iraqi Chaldean and professor of political science at the Catholic University of Lyon. An expert in Christianity in the Middle East with a profound knowledge of the Iraqi reality, he criticises the idea of a Christian enclave on the Nineveh plain and warns of a “political strategy that aims to eliminate Christians” which can only be halted if “the logic of divisions and self-interest is overcome”.

What do you think of the electoral law that gives only six seats to minorities?

What has been done to minorities is dishonourable and discriminatory. There were a series of protests but the bill was approved. It is evident that there is a policy of marginalisation of Christians, a policy that in the case of Mosul has become persecution. It seems that there is a deliberate strategy that aims to politically eliminate the country’s Christians.

The Christians who have remained in Iraq seem have been forced to a crossroads: leave or become refugees on the Nineveh Plain. Is there no third choice?

That is the point. We need to think in collective terms and look at the country in its totality, even with its obvious internal divisions. First a global vision must be elaborated, on then will we be able to consider the statute and the representation for Christians. Iraq must remain united, based on its own foundations and not on confessional, religious, ethnic criteria which only increase division. We must leave this logic behind, because it ruptures the nation.

But is there the will be stay united?

This is the point. Let’s go back to the Christians: creating an enclave on the Nineveh Plain will only complicate matters by negatively changing the community within the country. In the best case scenario it will become a buffer zone between the Arabs and the Kurds and could end up being exploited. It cannot be the best solution for a community that has lived in the country for centuries and that has been a concrete witness of Iraq ’s pluralistic and multi-cultural society that is one of the nation’s greatest resources. Christians are Iraqi citizens in all effects; the Churches mission is to be a bridge between different culture and the conditions for this means having an Iraq that is founded on civic criteria. Not a divided country that runs the risk of folding in on itself and isolating itself. The government has to guarantee this, sustained by the international community.

What do you think of the European Union’s decision to accept 10 thousand Iraqi refugees?

Here too, the real issue is to guarantee security so they can return to their homeland. For Christians in particular, the psychological aspect is extremely important: they need to know they are not alone and isolated. I remember what my mother would say to us when we were small, almost 50 years ago: there is someone who is thinking of us and she was speaking of the Pope. We are not orphans. Christians need this psychological help and solidarity. The ideal is to help them stay in their land.

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