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ACN Religious Freedom Report Iraq: Christians desire ‘a real change of the political system’

Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Najeeb Michael Moussa, O.P. of Mosul and Akra in northern Iraq spoke with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) about the prospects of Christians in the country and also formulated the greatest hopes and fears of the followers of Christ in the region.


What is the situation today in Iraq in the light of the coronavirus outbreak?
The healthcare situation in Iraq today is extremely fragile, with a lack of testing facilities. Draconian measures have now been taken to avoid the worst of the virus, and self-isolation has been imposed on most of the country.

What are the hopes of Christians for the months and years to come?
The hope of the Christians is to be able to live in peace in their own country on the basis of equality of rights and duties, on exactly the same basis as the other Iraqis, so that they are not second-class citizens or dhimmis (the discriminatory status accorded to non-Muslims). For the state religion in Iraq is Islam.

Christians continue to demand their rights for the revision of certain unjust laws. For example, the forced conversion to Islam of underage girls, if one of the parents should become a Muslim. The Christians are also demanding the right to equality of the sexes when it comes to inheritance, marriage, freedom of religion and so forth.

What is the greatest fear of the Christians today?

The greatest fear, and one which prevents Christians from returning to their former homes in Mosul and on the Nineveh Plains, is that of seeing the renewed growth of Islamic fundamentalism.

How do you see the future of the Christians in Iraq?
Personally, I am optimistic regarding the future of the Christians on the Nineveh Plains and in Iraq. Through education and cultural dialogue, we can overcome obscurantism and violence. Kurdistan, on our own doorstep, is showing that citizens can live in peace, beyond their religious differences. The popular ferment and the peaceful demonstrations in Baghdad present a great opportunity for change in Iraq. Sooner or later the last word will be for peace and not for the sword.

Please read the whole interview here.

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