Patriarch Louis Sako: Isn’t it Time to Form a Single Political Grouping for the Christians of Iraq?

By Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako

It is a question that came up after deep thinking on the Iraqi current situation, it is extended from the ideology that an individual or group life is made up of thoughts, presented by clear conscience and morality that adds up all its benefits to many affected Christians.

From this standpoint, I direct some ideas to the Iraqi Christian in Iraq and abroad, in light of the unstable events that Iraq is experiencing, and the New Year 2020 hoping that this message finds its way to the listening ears and good will to unify them.

The Christian citizens are known for their ability to integrate completely throughout history, and it is not surprising that their roots are solid on this blessed earth since before and after Christianity.  They are considered the oldest Christian civilization in the world, Their Christianity dates to the end of the first century and the beginning of the second century AD.  Sadly, since 2003, Iraq has seen many changes, and Iraqi Christians have lost many great opportunities to enjoy it.  Today, there stands a big challenge in front of them: How to keep Christians in Iraq while achieving dignity for them, and enhancing their presence and role, especially as Iraq is approaching early elections?

I ask our Christians, especially the elite of them: Is it not time for them to think carefully about reviewing themselves, and take responsibility for their reunification, as they face fateful challenges represented by a number of factors from: a decrease in the number due to emigration and marginalization in employment, and weak political representation due to the kidnapping of the quota, and the dispersion of the Chaldean, Syriac and Assyrian parties, and changing the demographics of their historical regions, the unjust legislations against them, and others, to the importance of amending the constitution and reforming personal status laws. It is essential for their survival and historical continuation.

The question remains in the soul: Wonder Why do you see the Christian parties remain at the mercy of the major parties that capture the votes of Christians and make them without real representation and a unified political leadership that defends them?

More than one observer believes that there is an excellent opportunity for Christians to think of forming a single political alliance that includes all parties, intellectual elites, specialties and abilities, especially young people. We have prominent specialists and academics in law, politics, sociology, economics, and media, rather than the dispersal and splitting of Christian and national parties vertically and consensually, and for the lack of “Front Face” each party claims supremacy.

Perhaps it is now necessary, before it is too late, to think and plan a unified Christian strategy, from which a document will be produced, to which everyone will adhere under a name such as “The Christian Parties Group”, or the Christian Alliance or under whatever name they agree on, existing parties, elites and talents are involved. The more diverse parties, allied to challenges, under common names … and such an alliance gives a strong impetus to Christians in decision-making circles. They enter the elections of the Parliament of the Center and the Kurdistan Region with one well-studied list of competencies that have a clear and frank national and Christian breath, known for their integrity and courage, who are at the level of national and Christian responsibility, and prepare a paper of their demands and rights..

Why the Christian name? Because, frankly, for various reasons and there is no room for digging into it, all attempts to unite Christians in designating a single nationalism that is acceptable to all have failed. The complex designation is unsuccessful and does not unite us. Rather, it is worth leaving our differences, and each one to follow his own nationality, traditions and church: Chaldean, Syriac, Assyrian, and Armenian, and this is not a problem, but to have awareness and seriousness in his affiliation and openness to unification and teamwork, and take responsibility for Iraq and Christians.

The priorities in the Central and the Kurdistan region:

  1. The national, civil and democratic state is the primary standard for protecting citizens and ensuring equal rights for all through the constitution and laws. Therefore, it is necessary to form a committee of professionals in law and politics who know the legal aspects, to work with others on the tool for drafting the constitution and laws, in the Central and the Kurdistan region, and to establish the rights of Christians In the constitution, such as amending personal status laws relating to Christians such as engagement, marriage, alimony, invalidity of marriage, custody, inheritance, and others (Personal Status Law No. 188 of 1959), and fixing Christmas and Easter as holidays for all Iraqis, similar to tens of Muslim citizens holidays, especially given that some countries have endorsed a holiday official and most recently in Sudan!  Here, I refer to the ease of working with the Kurdish communities, which are all open. The distinction there is that the national side overwhelms its religious side.
  2. Building educational curricula to consolidate national unity and properly incorporate our heritage into it as part of the Iraqi national heritage. For example, and not limited to, the Iraqi constitution of 2005 neglected our role in making a civilization between the two rivers and what our ancestors did in transferring knowledge and science to the Arabic language.
  3. Changing the demographics of our regions and seizing lands. Here, we should focus on the towns of the Nineveh Plain. The future of Iraqi Christians passes through the Nineveh Plain.
  4. Reducing migration by finding money in every way to build and develop basic facilities in our regions, creating job opportunities for the unemployed, and encouraging expatriates to invest or contribute to projects.
  5. The need for independent media and institutions at home and abroad.
  6. The formation of a team to follow up on the affairs of Christians in the state departments, because there is a major imbalance in the follow-up, and if not for our churches, our people and our rights would be lost! We must express our satisfaction with the directions that go in this regard from the three presidencies in the center and the region.
  7. Strengthening relations with our Arab citizens, Kurds, Turkmen, Yazidis, and Mandaean Sabeans, developing and clarifying them, and seeking to agree with them on common constitutional concepts of the state and citizenship, and the place of indigenous minorities in the state and society, and preserving their rights equally through establishing a just civil state, a state of right and law.

Finally, on our part as a church, we are ready to support the achievement of such a comprehensive meeting if there are a sincere will and serious or sober people or people willing to hold it.

I wish you a blessed year, a year of peace, security and stability

This article was originally published at www.saint-adday.com on 30 December 2019.