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ICC Note: Cardinal Sako, the Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, has published an op-ed examining how Iraq’s Christians are caught between survival and migration. He writes about how Christians are an original people of Iraq and fundamental players in the country’s history, making it difficult for believers to leave their homes. But many have to. A lack of security and protection of civil rights means that Christians are often violently targeted and unable to flourish in Iraq.

08/27/2018 Iraq (Asia News) – Christians and other Iraqi minorities need “guarantees” to survive and a “common foundation” from which to build based on “citizenship, not religion or doctrine”, writes the Chaldean primate, Card Louis Raphael Sako in a message published on the website of the Chaldean patriarchate and sent to AsiaNews for information. The “deterioration” of security in the last 13 years, warns the cardinal, including kidnapping, ransom, homicide, destruction of houses and property has caused a progressive “loss of confidence” among Christians, who have been forced to emigrate.

However, today more than ever it is important to rebuild the social and political fabric and guarantee a future in their country of origin, to which they have provided “very important contributions” in the past from the “economic, social and cultural” point of view. Returning to them, warns Card Sako, the lost “dignity”.

Below the full text of Patriarch Sako’s message. A translation from the original Arabic

In this article I would like to discuss the main reasons why Christians must on one hand remain in their homeland, that is Iraq, or on the other hand to leave it and emigrate. In any case, I want to express my concern about the current and future situation of our country.

First of all, it should be pointed out that Christians are an original people in Iraq, not an immigrant community that has come from another planet. In fact, the roots of Iraqi Christians date back to the first century AD, while their ethnic origins go back thousands of years before, being descendants of Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriacs and Arabs.

Throughout their long history, Christians have served their country in a very decisive and influential way at all levels, including economic, cultural and social. They firmly believe that Iraq is their land of origin and an integral part of their identity, and that they represent a fundamental part of the different components of society.

Therefore, they refuse to be marginalized as regards their membership of the land and the Iraqi people. And despite all that has happened in Iraq, Christians desire, from the depth of their hearts and for all, peace, stability, true equality, real recognition of citizenship, freedom and dignity.

The reasons that push towards immigration

Iraqi Christians have withstood prolonged social and political pressures, and are treated as an insignificant minority and second class citizens. And of course, this way of treating them hurts. We only need to recall all that Christians suffered during the war between Iran and Iraq, the occupation of Kuwait, the 13 years of embargo, the fall of the regime in 2003, and the failure of successive governments in to lay the foundations for a national state and to consolidate a culture of citizenship and equality.

On the contrary, sectarianism and tribalism triumphed, which are founded on the protection of one groups members only, the spread of a religious preaching based on fundamentalism, which refers to ancient concepts to justify violence, although religion should be based on mercy, acceptance of the other, and a respectful attitude towards everyone.

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