Warning that “Iraq will come face to face with human, civil, and historic catastrophe,” Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako has written a letter “to the people of conscience and good will in Iraq and the world” in which he describes the dire situation in which Iraqi Christians find themselves.
“The control exercised by the Islamist Jihadists upon the city of Mosul, and their proclamation of it as an Islamic State, after several days of calm and expectant watching of events, has now come to reflect negatively upon the Christian population of the city and its environs,” the patriarch reported in his July 17 letter. “The only alternative is to abandon the city and their houses with only the clothes they are wearing, taking nothing else. Moreover, by Islamic law, upon their departure, their houses are no longer their properties but are instantly confiscated as property of the Islamic state.”
He also stated that ISIS forces had started marking the homes of Christians in Mosul with the Arabic letter “N,” for “Nazara” (Christian). “We do not know what will happen in future days because in an Islamic state the Al-sharia or Islamic code of law is powerful and has been interpreted to require the issuance of new I.Ds for the population based on religious or sectarian affiliation,” Patriarch Sako wrote.
Asia News reports that after Sunday Mass yesterday at Baghdad’s Chaldean Church of St. George, a group of Muslims gathered to show solidarity with their Christian neighbors, some carrying signs reading, “I am an Iraqi Christian.”
The Chaldean faithful who joined [the Muslims] after Mass sang the national anthem along with them; several said: “My house is open for my Christian brothers and sisters.” His Beatitude Mar Louis Sako, Patriarch of Baghdad, thanked them: “This brings hope for a new Iraq. I think especially of the young people, who have the task and the duty to change the situation.”
According to the leader of the Chaldean Church it “is a shame and a crime to force innocent people from their homes and confiscate their properties because they are ‘different’, because they are Christians. The whole world must rebel against these abominable acts.”
Christians, he said, “love Muslims and consider them our brothers and sisters, they must do the same. We are all equal in dignity, all citizens of the same country. We must unite to create a new Iraq. Thanks to all of you, there is still a hope”. Before leaving, the Christians have prayed the Our Father and the Muslims the sura al Fatiha [the first of the Koran, which is the “summary” of the Muslim creed].