In a recent Arabic-language article by Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, he elaborates on the status and concerns expressed by Christian Iraqis while stating that "half of them have already left Iraq for good and the others are awaiting the earliest possible opportunity to follow the same model which is attributed to instability and lack of justice in every walk of life" at a time when a fact is ignored that the "Christians are the indigenous or rather the native people of Iraq as well as the partners in the homeland."
He says, "The Christians live in a state of frustration because of unfair personal status laws, namely the forcible conversion of minors, as well as the forcible conversion to Islam of people who were forced to change their religion by ISIS under the threat of death. I personally sought to restore their affiliation with their Christian religion in response to their request, as this is not apostasy, but public coercion, because the choice of religion is made out of conviction and freedom rather than of coercion!"
Stressing that Christians are strongly harassed and forced to resign jobs that they already hold, he says that Christians cannot be employed unless they pay hefty sums of money as bribes, noting that the police department accepted the enrollment of 3,000 applicants and rejected all Christian applicants who numbered only 10.
He adds that in the Nineveh Plain, the Christians' concerns and worries have increased to the point that they began to emigrate at a rate of 20 families per month, due to the overwhelming chaos, fragmentation and favoritism created by sectarian militias.
Inquiring about how could those who believe in God commit such transgressions, he says, "Who will protect these Christians who are peaceful and loyal to their homeland, so long that the state does not protect them?" and adds that "these are painful violations, and they have repercussions on Iraq's reputation."
Expressing bitterness, he says: "If you do not wish us to remain as citizens with equal rights in our country, Iraq, then tell us this frankly so that we can manage our affairs before it is too late."
The article written by Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako dots all the "i"s and crosses at the "t"s as it elaborates on the long-term deterioration and the quandary situation the Christian Iraqis have found themselves in which turns into a fathomless abyss.
It is important to note that Christian Iraqis are the indigenous people of Iraq who serve as a historical witness to the originality and glory of their country’s civilization--which includes the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriacs, and Armenians. In this regard, do we run the risk of finding Iraq without a Christian presence? With the world currently embroiled in the imbroglios of wars, famine, arms race, and climate change, will it soon divert attention to the dire situation experienced by Christian Iraqis before it is too late?
With Cardinal Sako's assertion that the Christian Iraqi families emigrate at a rate of 20 families per month, due to the frustration and implicit persecution they are going through on daily bases, an immediate action ought to be taken whereby it is important to seek a durable panacea. Consequently, it is of exigent importance to convene an international conference that nails down tangible and applicable solutions which restore to the Christian Iraqis their dignity, integrity, and promises for a bright future in their country.
It is of expeditious importance to restore the dignity to the Christian Iraqis and treat them on an equal footing with other Iraqis so that all Iraqi people can work hand-in-hand for the prosperity of their country. The region needs its valuable Christian component as it does need all other components of the society whereby their joint efforts can rebuild a country based on equality and justice which turns Iraq into a flowering garden exuding common living and cordiality.
The Holy Bible quotes Lord Jesus Christ as saying, "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Let us reiterate a prayer composed by Cardinal Sako which says,"O Lord, as you have created all human beings equal in dignity, we ask you to overflow the spirit of brotherhood, solidarity and respect among Iraqis so that they can feel that they are one extended family, living in peace, justice and equality free from conflicts and injustice. O Lord of peace, grant peace to our Iraq."