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02/01/2020 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – Archbishop Bashar Warda of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church, based in Erbil, has reissued a plea for a unified Iraq that respects the rights of everyone regardless of ethnicity or religion. His latest comments come as Iraq’s Central Government descends into chaos following months of protests and a recent airstrike by the US that targeted Iran’s influence in Iraq.

The protesters have simple requests: an end to corruption, an end to sectarianism, equality for everyone, and for foreign governments to respect Iraq’s national sovereignty. The government had responded harshly towards them, but the intensity of this harshness drastically increased following the US’s assassination of Iranian Qud’s Force General Qassem Soleimani and Iraq’s Paramilitary Chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Since the airstrike, paramilitary forces have increased their aggression towards protesters. Targeted kidnappings are common, with fresh reports coming almost daily. The militias have escalated the types of weapons used against the protesters—firing live rounds into peaceful gatherings are also common. Whereas before many Christians had joined the protests, amazed at how much hope they had for their country, now many Christians prefer to remain at home. They are fearful that should the situation worsen any further, religious minorities will be the first targeted.

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