Iraqi prelate pleads for help at first-ever UN session on persecution of Christians

CWN - Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako called upon the UN to address the “catastrophic situation” facing Christians in Iraq, in a March 27 presentation to the Security Council.

The Security Council, on a French initiative, was meeting to discuss the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities by the Islamic State. The March 27 meeting marked the first time that the persecution of Christians has been the focus of a debate at UN headquarters in New York.

“Frankly, the so-called Arab Spring impacted negatively on us,” Patriarch Sako told the meeting. He said that Muslim extremists are unwilling to tolerate other faiths, and conditions have deteriorated for religious minorities.

“At the same time, it is important to understand that these terroristic acts should not be generalized to all Muslims,” the Chaldean Patriarch said. “In fact, there is a silent and peaceful majority of Muslims that reject such politicization of the religion.”

The Iraqi prelate urged international leaders to support his country’s government in a drive for “the liberation of all Iraqi cities-- and for us Christians, Yezidis and Shabaks especially the city of Mosul as well as the towns in the Nineveh plain and villages.” However, he cautioned that military action alone cannot solve the problems facing the country. He urged a concerted effort to counter religious extremism, end support for terrorists, and ensure the restoration of the rule of law.

In the absence of effective action, the Patriarch said, the situation could easily become more dangerous, and violence could escalate: “Millions of children and young people are deprived of schools and education. Millions of refugees are being in camps without care and attention. The growing frustration, unemployment and poverty could easily develop an atmosphere of revenge and extremism.”

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