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Silence around Christian massacre troubling

ICC Note:

“Seven years have passed and Christianity is still bleeding. Where is the world’s conscience?”

11/15/2010 Iraq (The Calgary Herald) – On Oct. 15, Syrian Catholic Archbishop Athanase Matti Shaba Matoka of Baghdad delivered one of the most memorable interventions during the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East — words made even more poignant by the Oct. 31 attack on worshippers at his cathedral. What follows is an excerpt from his text:

“Since the year 2003, Christians are the victims of a killing situation, which has provoked a great emigration from Iraq . . . without a doubt there are only about 400,000 Christians left of the 800,000 that lived there. The invasion of Iraq by America and its allies brought to Iraq in general, and especially to its Christians, destruction and ruin on all levels.

“Churches were blown up, bishops and priests and lay persons were massacred, many were the victims of aggression. Doctors and businessmen were kidnapped, others were threatened, storage places and homes were pillaged . . . here still is the fear of the unknown, insecurity and instability, as well as the continuation of emigration . . . . The tears are continuous between the different religious and political composing elements, as well as external influence by external powers, especially neighbouring countries.

“Seven years have passed and Christianity is still bleeding. Where is the world’s conscience?”

His intervention was moving, prophetic and provocative.

There is a basic deep-seated misunderstanding that needs to be exposed; we are not talking about a “religious” problem. What is at stake is the possibility of people exercising their human rights, of which religious ones are an important and vital component.

Consider the remarks by Corbishop Philip Najem, procurator for the Chaldean Catholic Church following the Baghdad attack.

“This attack has been condemned by the whole Iraqi community! It is not a matter of faith! Certainly, the intention is to create chaos. There are dark forces that have entered the country only to create this division and to prevent the process of pacification of Iraq . . . I heard yesterday that there were many Muslims who had gone to donate blood for the victims who were injured in the church. The extremists have been condemned by Muslims themselves: by that Islam that knows God, that knows faith, that knows love, that knows charity! . . . . This is a barbaric attack, different from other attacks . . . no one can say that this has been done in the name of a religion, a faith or a god. This is an attack against humanity, against the Church, against religion, against faith, against the dignity of the human being.”

All the world remains a spectator before what is happening in Iraq, especially with regards to Christians. Why is there such a general lack of Western government and public interest and action for these persecuted people and the human right of religious freedom?

From time to time, we raise our voices and protest about individual human rights abuses such as the plight of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Azeri-Iranian woman whose stoning sentence for adultery was suspended after an international outcry earlier this year. Now many are again expressing their outrage and horror at the prospects of her hanging.

But the abuses in Iraq are generally confined to silence.

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