Rudaw

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Corruption is rife in the Iraqi state: Chaldean Catholic Patriarch

The head of the Chaldean Catholic church condemned Iraqi state corruption on Thursday, and said Iraq has not done enough for the country’s Christian community in the aftermath of persecution by the Islamic State (ISIS).

“Iraq is a rich country,” the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans told Rudaw’s Hawraz Gulpi on Thursday, but “corruption has spread to every single part of the state.”

“Christians have faced kidnapping, killing, and their churches were blown up in Iraq, then ISIS came to Nineveh and destroyed everything.”

“Three and a half years later they returned to their homes, but the government did not help them in any way.”

Christians in Iraq have continued to suffer “assault, harassment, and even attempts of demographic change,” the Patriarch said.

The Christians in Iraq’s government “do not represent us”, he said, but “the people who put them in those positions.”

“They either represent the Shiites or the Kurds”.

The Patriarch also criticized the government’s quota system for minorities including Christians, calling it “unnecessary”.

“Bring a Muslim minister instead of a Christian one – as long as they respect and serve Iraq, we will be honored to have them,” he said.

The Patriarch commended the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for welcoming Christians into the Kurdistan Region when the Islamic State attacked, and called the KRG “a secular government that respects democracy and does not differentiate between different ethnicities.”

However, he said that Christians often face “hate speech” from the people in “Erbil, Duhok, and rest of the Kurdistan Region.”

Estimates for the number of Christians living in Iraq vary dramatically. According to the Patriarch, there were more than 1.5 million Christians in Iraq before the fall of Saddam in 2003, but waves of persecution since has caused their number to dwindle to around 500,000. According to figures provided to Rudaw by Chaldean bishop Najib Mikhael and Iraqi member of parliament Klara Odisho Yaqub, only 350,000 Christians remain in Iraq.

Sako, an Assyrian and a native of Zakho, was appointed head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in 2013 by Benedict XVI, the pope at the time. Sako was made a Cardinal in 2018 by Pope Francis II.

Pope Francis used part of this year’s Christmas message to highlight the plight of children in conflict zones – particularly Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

“On this day, when the word of God became a child, let us turn our gaze to the many, all too many, children worldwide, especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, who still pay the high price of war,” he said. Source