Rescuing and serving persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

ICC Note: As Iraq begins the post-electoral process, the country’s Christians are calling for a government free from sectarianism which recognizes them as full citizens under the law. Government and the legal structure in Iraq is a bundle of multilayered complexities that have had a substantial negative effect for Christians ever since 2003. The implications on the security situation has led many to leave over the last decade and a half.        

05/28/2018 Iraq (NCR Online) –  In the aftermath of Iraq’s elections, Christians want to see a government formed that is free from the sectarianism that has torn apart the country, and they want Iran’s influence to diminish. Both issues have played a huge role in politics since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Fr. Emanuel Youkhana, a priest, or archimandrite, of the Assyrian Church of the East, told Catholic News Service that although fiery Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has gained the majority of parliament’s seats, al-Sadr’s uncompromising nationalism, stand against corruption and against foreign meddling seem to have struck a chord among ordinary Iraqis, who are fed up with what many call Baghdad’s broken political system.

“Iraq’s Shiite politicians, whose population forms the country’s majority, are of two streams: one pro-Iran and the other freer from Iranian influence, and Sadr is the leader of this latter group,” the priest explained.

“Al-Sadr has called for a Cabinet of technocrats, not politicians. So far, he is more acceptable with the public because of his slogans. But can he realize forming a coalition government? In Iraq, it’s very complicated,” Youkhana said.

Youkhana runs the Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq or CAPNI, for displaced Iraqis around the city of Dohuk, in addition to rebuilding homes and restoring livelihoods in several towns in the Ninevah Plain following its destruction by Islamic State since 2014.

Iraq’s historic Christians and other religious minorities, such as the Yezidis, are also dismayed that the government has so far failed to address and counter the problems that led to the rise of the Islamic State in the first place.  And it has not contributed to rebuilding efforts in their communities.

“Now in Germany or the U.S., if a situation happens two or three times, they call for a debate in Congress. But in Iraq, it’s now four years from what happened, and there has been no national debate on what took place, how it happened, and how to prevent it from reocurring,” the priest said.

Yet, Iraqi Cardinal-designate Louis Sako, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch, has repeatedly called for a serious national dialogue to combat sectarianism in his homeland. So far, those calls seem to have gone largely unheeded.

Iraq’s military and police abandoned Christians and Yezidis in the face of the brutal attacks by Islamic State in 2014 that saw thousands killed, kidnapped, turned into sex slaves, maimed and displaced. The United Nations deemed the Islamic State the perpetrator of a genocide against the Yezidis of Iraq.

[Full Story]

For interviews with Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org