lunedì, dicembre 18, 2017
The Chaldean Archbishop of Basra and the
south, Habib Jajou contributed in the Conference on Intercultural and
interreligious dialogue held in Zgreb, Croatia between Thursday and
Friday, 7-8 December on behalf of HB Mar Louis Raphael Sako. The reason
of holding the Conference was to celebrate the 20th Annual EPP Group Intercultural Dialogue with Churches and Religious Institutions. The
title was: From understanding to cooperation, promoting interfaith
encounters to meet global challenges. The president of Croatia, the
Prime Minister, Memberes from the European Parlament, religious leaders,
and Concerned Christian organizations have contributed in the
The Archbishop spoke about a number of points:
First, ‘promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue and
encouraging cultural diversity as a sign of maturity in the
understanding of the modern social life to create a peaceful and stable
society. The dialogue is influential to battle extremism and proclaim
the human values where religions and cultures share many mutual
Second, ‘stakeholders are called upon to record the previous examples
of dialogues and update then upgrade the existing initiatives and
Third, ‘states, religions and cultural institutions are responsible for
improving ways to promote dialogues on different levels, to encourage
cooperation between different charity and solidarity organizations for
social cohesion and stability.’
Fourth, ‘every country is called upon to establish a council to
organize the dialogue projects for better results. This will encourage
interest to open new ways for the human family to respect diversities.
It will help them to resolve many dilemmas: violent, terrorism and
Fifth, ‘we face the loss of local cultures due to mass immigration,
consequently, training men and women from different communities is very
significant to create a competence that is capable of contacting people
from different ethnicities.’
In ending his speech, Archbishop Habib Jajou called for more action for
Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue because the World is facing
countless challenges and numerous opportunities at the same time.
Erbil – As the Iraqi Government celebrated its final
victory over ISIL this week, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, released a
new study, which shows that 90 per cent of displaced Iraqis are
determined to return home. This is similar to the long-term intentions
recorded in 2016.
More than 1.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have
returned to their places of origin so far in 2017. In total since the
start of the crisis in 2014, IOM estimates that more than 2.8 million
displaced Iraqis have returned, while more than 2.9 million people
The IOM study, Integrated Location Assessment (ILA) analyzes both
displacement and return movements of conflict-affected people across
Iraq. Approximately 2.1 million displaced persons and more than 1.6
million returnees, based in 3,583 locations across Iraq, have been
covered in the assessment, which was carried out between March and May
Only in Basrah and Najaf did families report that they consider
integrating into the local community, where they are displaced.
According to the findings, Anbar was the single governorate where
most returns took place in both 2016 and 2017, followed by Ninewa in
Among the main findings, this study identifies that residential and
infrastructure damage is widespread. Nearly one third of returnees are
reported to have returned to houses that have suffered significant
damage, and 60 per cent to moderately damaged residences. Regarding
infrastructure, most damage appears to affect roads, followed by the
public power grid and water networks.
The share of displaced Iraqis who have settled in critical shelters
and returnees unable to return to their habitual residence seems to have
slightly increased compared to 2016. This might be related to the lack
of legal documentation for houses, land and property which was reported
among the top three challenges in nearly one out of four locations.
Difficulties in returning to the habitual residence may also be
related to the fact that in some cases, those who remain in displacement
are among the poorest and most vulnerable families, strained by long
years on the move. In locations where there are female-headed
households, and particularly households headed by minor females, “lack
of money” is consistently among the top three obstacles to return.
Long-term concerns over economic security persist with 80 per cent of
displaced people and 63 per cent of returnees cited access to
employment as one of their top three needs.
However, the main obstacle to return reported by the displaced
population remained lack of security in the place or origin, whether due
to ongoing conflict, presence of UXO, landmines and militias.
The ILA Part I: Thematic Overview, the ILA Part II: Governorate Profiles and Questionnaire can be downloaded on the DTM ILA II portal page.
One of the passages of the report about Iraqi Christian Population:
Just like in 2016, while Arab Sunni and Kurdish Sunni Muslims have mostlly returned home, Turkmen Shia and Sunni Muslims, Yazidis, Christians and Shabak Shias remain displaced across Iraq.
(note by Baghdadhope. Thematic Overview pag 15)
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced on Saturday
that nearly half of the Iraqis, who were displaced by the battle
against ISIS, have returned home.
It said in a report released earlier this week that the number of people
who have returned home since the beginning of the crisis in November
2014 has reached 2.27 million. Some 2.88 million remain displaced.
IOM spokeswoman Sandra Black told Agence France Presse that this was the
first time that the number of people returning is equal to the number
Should the return rate continue like this, then the number of returnees will exceed the number of the displaced, she added.
ISIS had seized large swathes of Iraqi territory in an offensive in mid
2014. Iraqi forces managed over the past three years to recapture much
of the land.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced last week his country’s victory over the terrorist organization.
IOM said that the majority of the returnees were recorded in the Anbar and Ninevh provinces. Most of them reported that their houses were severely damaged in the
battles. Some 60 percent reported moderate damage, it revealed. Locals who do not have property documents have faced the greatest difficulties in returning to their homes.
The main obstacles hindering the return of the displaced are lingering skirmishes and unexploded mines.
The majority who have returned are from the Sunni and Kurdish
populations, not Sunni Turkmen, Shi’ites, Yazidis, Christians and the
Inside a church in Jordan, a displaced Iraqi Christian mother dreams of a
brighter future for her children far from the war-torn country they
were forced to flee.
She is among thousands of Iraqi Christians from the northern town of
Bartalla to have sought refuge in neighbouring Jordan after running for
their lives from jihadists.
"We've lost everything. Our houses have been pillaged and destroyed.
There's nothing left over there to make it worth returning," said Walaa
When the Islamic State group swept across northern Iraq in 2014 they
told Christians to convert, pay tax, leave or die. Tens of thousands
chose to flee.
Baghdad has announced final victory over the extremist group, but
Louis says she will not return to a country where she does not feel
She, her husband and three children -- now aged 16, 15 and eight --
fled Bartalla in August 2014, trekking for hours in the dead of night to
the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Arbil.
They endured months of struggle in Arbil, including sleeping rough in parks or inside churches.
Iraqi forces retook Bartalla from IS earlier this year, but when
Louis returned to her hometown in August she found nothing but a home in
She and her husband decided to head to Jordan, where they filed with
the UN refugee agency for resettlement "in any safe country" to ensure
her children's future.
But as Christmas approaches, Louis said her family has received no financial aid and their money is running out.
"We've spent everything we had," said Louis, who suffers from a heart condition.
"I can't even see a doctor or buy Christmas presents for my children," she said.
For now, her youngest son is among some 200 children aged 6 to 14
attending night classes at the Marka Latin Church in the Jordanian
- 'Right to life' -
They are taught by volunteer Iraqi teachers, and receive books, clothes and meals for free.
The night classes are all in English, the school's head Sanaa Baki
said, as the parents of most Iraqi students have applied for
She hopes the language skills will help the children better settle in foreign schools if these requests are granted.
Some 10,000 Iraqi Christian refugees live in Jordan, according to Father Rifaat Badr, who heads a Catholic research centre.
Many of them dream of new lives in Europe, Canada, Australia or in the United States.
The church's priest, Khalil Jaar, believes education is also key to the children remembering where they come from.
"The saying goes, 'If you want to destroy a people, erase their history and make their children ignorant'," he said.
"We need to work to ensure all these children are given their right to education and to life."
This month, France's ambassador to Jordan, David Bertolotti, visited
the church to announce a 120,000 euro ($140,000) donation for the night
classes to continue until the end of the school year.
Under a large Christmas tree, children with wooden crosses dangling
around their necks sang the Iraqi national anthem at the top of their
Ban Benyamin Yussef, a mother-of-four, was among the parents present.
"After Daesh members plundered, destroyed and burned our home and my
husband's grocery shop, we decided to pack our bags and seek refuge in
Jordan, hoping to start a new life," the 43-year-old said, using an
Arabic acronym for IS.
It was the last leg of a journey fleeing harassment across Iraq.
"When sectarian violence flared in 2006, we received death threats
and fled Baghdad for Mosul", a city in northern Iraq, she said.
Threatened there too, they escaped to a small village north of the city -- until IS arrived in 2014.
But even now that Iraqi forces have claimed victory over the
jihadists, Yussef and her family have no intention of returning to Iraq.
"We can't go back. Our towns have been destroyed. We've lost everything."
By Asia News
Fra i rifugiati di Mosul e della piana di Ninive ancora oggi ospitati
nei centri di accoglienza della parrocchia di Enishke, nel Kurdistan
irakeno, si respira “un clima di gioia e di speranza”, a dispetto “delle
difficoltà”. Anzi, le fatiche di ogni giorno e la lotta quotidiana per
la sopravvivenza “hanno accresciuto il legame di unione e solidarietà
fra cristiani”, che finisce per abbracciare “anche le famiglie
musulmane”. È quanto racconta ad AsiaNews p. Samir Youssef,
sacerdote della diocesi di Amadiya (Kurdistan), che ha curato negli anni
migliaia di famiglie di profughi cristiani, musulmani, yazidi che hanno
lasciato le loro case nel 2014 per sfuggire ai miliziani dello Stato
islamico (Si, ex Isis). Archiviata la lotta contro il movimento
jihadista, dichiarato sconfitto
lo scorso fine settimana dal premier al-Abadi, restano molti i problemi
degli sfollati che non hanno dispongono nemmeno delle risorse di base
Le famiglie “anche se vivono situazioni di difficoltà non si fanno
prendere dalla tristezza e dalla stanchezza”, racconta p. Samir; al
contrario, sembrano “essere sostenute da una forza che va oltre la sfera
materiale”. Vi è un “sentimento comune di appartenenza fra le persone”
che spesso cercano di “aiutarsi fra loro, acquistando cibo e generi di
prima necessità, vestiti”. Tutto questo, aggiunge, “contribuisce a
creare davvero il clima del Natale, un sentimento e una attenzione che
ci fanno sentire davvero amati”.
Nell’area vivono ancora oggi 150 famiglie di rifugiati cristiani,
musulmani e yazidi; essi provengono da Batnaya, Qaraqosh, Telkief, altri
ancora da Mosul. Le loro case sono tuttora inagibili e non possono fare
rientro. Di queste, il 20-30% circa riceve aiuti dall’estero o
beneficia di una indipendenza minima perché riesce a guadagnare un po’
di denaro col proprio lavoro di piccolo commerciante, artigiano ma il
restante 70% conta in massima parte sugli aiuti senza i quali non hanno
di che sopravvivere.
La situazione a livello economico è ancora difficile, perché il
governo di Baghdad e quello del Kurdistan non si sono accordati sul
pagamento dei salari per insegnanti e impiegati. Ad oggi vi sono solo
vaghe promesse dell’esecutivo centrale, ma niente di concreto. Inoltre,
ancora oggi vi sono famiglie dei villaggi e delle cittadine circostanti
che si rivolgono alla parrocchia di Enishke in cerca di aiuti o piccoli
contributi per la sopravvivenza; si tratta di persone che non hanno
nulla e portano con sé storie terribili che si ripetono ogni settimana.
P. Samir, fra i principali beneficiari della campagna di AsiaNews "Adotta un cristiano di Mosul",
sottolinea che in questo tempo natalizio le famiglie erano solite fare
acquisti come generi alimentari e abbigliamento. Tuttavia, oggi la
situazione di crisi “ha ridotto in modo drastico le risorse, pochissimi
prendono e salari e hanno soldi sufficienti per le spese. Proprio in
questi giorni il governo del Kurdistan ha affermato che non vi è denaro
per pagare i salari, già in arretrato di due mesi, fino al nuovo anno”.
Ecco perché la Chiesa locale ha rinnovato i propri sforzi per venire
incontro alle necessità della popolazione, sia che si tratti di famiglie
rifugiate che di abitanti da tempo stanziati nella zona; una
solidarietà che, per quanto possibile, cerca di abbracciare cristiani,
musulmani, yazidi come conferma lo stesso sacerdote. “Per una settimana -
racconta p. Samir - la parrocchia ha organizzato un mercato di Natale con cibo, latte, generi di prima necessità, vestiario e scarpe. Abbiamo
venduto gli articoli a un prezzo inferiore rispetto alla città. In
precedenza, come Chiesa, avevamo distribuito buoni spesa da 100 dollari a
120 famiglie più bisognose. Altri hanno acquistato a prezzo calmierato.
Le risorse diminuiscono, ma cerchiamo lo stesso di aiutare quanti sono
Questa iniziativa ha attirato anche l’attenzione delle famiglie
musulmane, che hanno chiesto di poter usufruire dei prezzi ribassati
come i cristiani e gli yazidi. “Purtroppo - racconta il sacerdote - non
avevamo risorse sufficienti per tutti, quindi non abbiamo potuto
accoglierle direttamente noi. Conosco però famiglie cristiane che hanno
comprato cibo e vestiti, per poi regalarlo alle famiglie musulmane.
Anche alberi di Natale, per coinvolgerli nella festa”. La comunità ha
realizzato, aggiunge, che le risorse “non sono più come prima, quindi ci
si sacrifica e si condividono maggiormente beni e risorse. Per fare un
esempio: ieri una donna cristiana ha utilizzato 80 dei 100 dollari di
buono, senza chiedere il resto e lasciandone i 20 rimanenti da
ridistribuire in cibo ai più poveri. Una vera e propria solidarietà dal
basso che ha convolto anche il padrone musulmano di un mini-market
vicino alla parrocchia, che ci fa prezzi di favore e vende a credito,
aspettando senza fretta il momento in cui possiamo pagarlo”.
In queste settimane di Avvento la comunità si prepara alla nascita di
Gesù, attraverso momenti di incontro e di preghiera, come quello che la
scorsa settimana ha coinvolto oltre 850 ragazzi e ragazze delle medie e
delle superiori. Un incontro ospitato dal centro culturale Giovanni
Paolo II, sotto la guida di 10 sacerdoti e suore e caratterizzato da
seminari, testimonianze, recita del Rosario, messe. Il 20 dicembre
prossimo ci saranno le confessioni per tutta la comunità, poi la notte
della vigilia la messa solenne. “In tutto l’Iraq - conclude p. Samir - i
cristiani cercano di essere una fonte di gioia e riconciliazione, ma
non lasciateci soli: abbiamo bisogno delle vostre preghiere, della
vostra vicinanza e solidarietà. Perché questa terra diventi una terra di
pace e, in questo, è racchiusa tutta la forza del messaggio di Natale”.
venerdì, dicembre 15, 2017
has become increasingly difficult to get out of the war-ravaged lands
of the Middle East where millions have been left with homeless and
hopeless futures. In Sweden it can take up to two years for someone who
has obtained a residential permit, to bring his or her family for a
so-called family reunification. This has led to a massive increase
in human trafficking. I met some victims who have entrusted their lives
and money into the hands unscrupulous gangs, organized into leagues
with branches in Sweden and Germany.
a church in the northern part of Beirut I’m being told that a young
mother has gone from Syria to Lebanon, hoping to continue on. Her
husband has paid 5000 euros for a visa to Germany. The person who has
received the money claims to be working in the German embassy. But it’s a
lie. The money has been paid, but the visa does not exist.
ask a volunteer at the church if he knows about this scam. He says that
everyone – aid workers and government officials – knows that refugees
are being fooled.
young woman from Bagdad, Terez, whispers that she knows others who have
been fooled. She asks me to accompany her to a four-storey house in the
ghetto nearby. There she tells me how she and her brother had to flee
to Lebanon when jihadists started to kidnap Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syrians
and other Christians. Their father was one of them.
brother Tomas arrives. Terez prepares Arabic coffee, while Tomas tells
their story. The siblings’ story is painfully familiar – persecution,
harassment, abuse and violent deaths. Non-Muslims are facing
increasingly unbearable conditions in countries like Iraq and Syria.
is married to an American of Iraqi origin and is due to move to the US,
but she doesn’t want to leave Tomas alone. “We only have each other, I
can’t go and leave him behind”, she says.
coffee is served in the traditional small cups. I swallow almost all
the content in one sip. At first, they glance at me strangely, but then
then we laugh, all four of us. The atmosphere eases. I am given another
cup to feed my caffeine addiction.
brings out a folder, full of their collective desperation. The message
is “rejection”, even though they have been promised – and have paid for –
“approval”. The imposters are smart. They have falsified business cards
to convince refugees in Lebanon and Jordan that they work, for example,
at the Swedish and German consulates, and the United Nations High
Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
shows me his mobile phone. In the Middle East, most people use the app
WhatsApp, which is used for recording and sending sound messages. Tomas
has kept the whole conversation between him and the fraudster, Basil. We
listen to the recordings. Tomas calls Basil and asks if he can help
him. Basil answers that they have to be careful, that it mustn’t be
revealed that he helps people to get visas to Australia, but he will
gladly help Tomas, since they have common acquaintances. Basil makes it
sound like he is doing Tomas a favour, and that the money will go
towards his expenses, and to other people at the embassy, whom he must
A cruel hoax
months pass. Tomas pays Basil 5000 euros. Money that he and Terez have
borrowed from relatives, friends and old neighbours, Christian Iraqis,
who are scattered all over the world. We continue listening. Basil lies
and lies. One day he is going to return the money, another day it’s
impossible. But then suddenly the siblings’ father, who is hiding in
Iraq, is in need of an emergency operation. There isn’t enough money.
Tomas calls Basil in a panic, asks him to stop everything and return the
money, and if not, the father is going to die. Basil says it’s not
possible, but Tomas mustn’t give up hope, because soon he will leave the
Middle East and be able to work and send money for his father’s
Basil changes his mobile number. He disappears with the money. And the
siblings’ situation is now worsened. They can’t go to the police in
Lebanon, because they are there illegally. They can’t go back to Bagdad.
And the father is very ill. Besides that, they are up over their ears
shows me receipts for two Western Union transactions. The money has
been sent to two persons in Germany. I google the names, investigates
social media. Are they real, or are they fake identities? Yes, they
exist, but they make themselves impossible to reach when I try to
I do get in touch with Paulus Kurt, who works for Internationale Gesellschaft orientalischer Christen. He
is working with refugees and is very aware of the fact that these
criminal gangs fool them. And he has reported a German local politician
to the police, because he has fooled about 40 people in Sweden and
Germany, who have residential permits, but have tried to bring over
their families, friends and old neighbours. The league targets
Christians, Yezidis and other non-Muslim groups.
Kurt got suspicious when he heard that a politician was helping people
to apply for visas, but at a cost. He asked to see the copies. “I could
tell at once they were false, no applications had been made, and that
nobody would get a visa that way. I called the refugees and have now
identified forty-five families who have been scammed in Sweden only”.
night he sends me links to German news articles and TV reports. The
politician has left his post and is undergoing a criminal investigation.
Most people have lost their money. “Some have the power and brute force
to scare the league, and therefore did get their money back, while
others are powerless”, Paulus Kurt says.
want to get hold of Basil, and I go to a translation agency, where I
have been told I might get in touch with him. I ask if they know anyone
who can get my relatives to Europe, preferably Sweden. I say I can pay
and that I am desperate. They ask for my number, point out that they are
not involved in anything criminal, but might know someone who can help
me. They want to do this just for goodwill.
log onto Facebook. Basil has three Facebook pages. Pictures of when he
is at embassy offices, and at the local UN office in Beirut. It looks
good. It’s understandable that many buy into the bluff, when you see the
pictures. I approach some of his contacts, who work with refugees in
Sweden and Germany. Everybody knows of him, and that he works with
asylum issues in the Middle East, but they don’t know exactly what he is
seek him via Messenger. After twenty-four hours he responds. He says
“hello” and asks what he can do for me. I write that I am a journalist
and ask if he can answer a couple of questions. He replies that “he
knows someone at Skate Varkat in Malmo”. It might be a threat. He wants
me to know that he knows people in Sweden. I persist, and ask kindly
what he works with. He doesn’t answer any more.
Sweden I get in touch with Sharbel, through Paulus Kurt. He’s from
Syria and was smuggled to Sweden at a cost of 10 000 euros in the summer
of 2014. In May 2016 he got his residential visa. He then found out
that his wife and two children wouldn’t be able to come for at least
another 18 months, because the queues to the Swedish consulate were
massive. “The only Swedish embassy they could go to was the one in
Jordan, but the borders are closed, and open very erratically. The roads
are closed”, says Sharbel, when he explains why he paid for false
got in touch with the German politician’s network, and calls his
relatives and friends. He had found a new way to get into Europe. “My
brother-in-law was killed in a suicide bombing and left his wife and
daughter behind. We thought we must take them to safety in Europe. My
in-laws also wanted to come, as well as my sister, brother and their
paid a total of 25000 euros for the family’s visas to Germany. It was a
hoax. Three people, Sharbel’s wife and two daughters, managed finally
to get to Sweden. The others are still in Syria.
Terez, Tomas, Basil and Sharbel are fictitious names.
*Susan Korah from Canada and Ann Kristin Sandlund from Sweden contributed to this report
**This report was first published in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet
Traduzione dallo spagnolo a cura di Roberta Sciamplicotti
Padre Naim Shoshandy è un giovane sacerdote iracheno di rito
siro-cattolico. A 34 anni confessa che la terra in cui è nato ha visto
solo guerra e orrori. Lui stesso conosce in prima persona la sofferenza e
Naim è il minore di cinque fratelli. Suo fratello Raid è stato
assassinato a Mosul per il solo fatto di essere cristiano, e sia lui che
la sua famiglia hanno dovuto fuggire dalla loro città, Qaraqosh, quando
nel 2014 lo Stato Islamico ha attaccato e conquistato la città, in cui
esisteva una consistente minoranza cristiana.
Una campagna perché i cristiani iracheni possano tornare a casa
Il religioso si è recato mercoledì a Madrid alla presentazione della campagna di Aiuto alla Chiesa che Soffre Ayúdales a volver (Aiutali
a tornare), nella quale si ricostruiranno oltre 13.000 case di
cristiani e centinaia di chiese e cappelle nella piana di Ninive perché
possano tornare nella propria terra, in quella dei loro antenati, in cui
hanno ricevuto la fede.
Visibilmente emozionato, padre Naim si è interrotto varie volte per
le lacrime. Per vari anni ha vissuto con la famiglia e i parrocchiani in
un campo di rifugiati di Erbil, nel Kurdistan iracheno, dove ha svolto
la sua opera pastorale e ha seguito un programma di aiuto ai malati di
cancro, malattia che ha ucciso suo padre, sfollato dagli jihadisti.
Nel suo intervento, il sacerdote ha parlato della forza della fede
dei cristiani iracheni, della forza del perdono che stanno sperimentando
e della grande voglia che hanno di tornare nelle proprie case. Non
vogliono andare in Europa, né negli Stati Uniti o in Paesi vicini.
Vogliono tornare a casa anche se sanno che non è ancora un luogo sicuro.
“Siamo riusciti a perdonare l’assassino di mio fratello”
“Vivere da cristiani in Iraq non è facile”, ha affermato, ricordando
quanto sia stato difficile l’assassinio di suo fratello per mano degli
islamisti. “La sua morte è stata dura, ma grazie a Dio siamo riusciti a
perdonare l’assassino di mio fratello”, ha spiegato.
Nella sua testimonianza ha ricordato il momento in cui è caduta
Mosul, la seconda città dell’Iraq per grandezza, ad appena 30 chilometri
da Qaraqosh, il suo villaggio. Non dimenticherà nemmeno quel 6 agosto
2014, quando all’alba tutti sono stati svegliati dal rumore delle bombe e
delle esplosioni, così come non dimentica il giorno in cui sono
arrivati gli jihadisti.
L’arrivo dei terroristi a casa sua
Lo Stato Islamico ha attaccato Qaraqosh, e una delle bombe “è caduta
vicino a casa mia. Ricordo che è morta una ragazza, una mia vicina che
aveva quasi 25 anni, e anche due bambini che giocavano in strada”.
In quel momento hanno iniziato a provare una paura che non li ha più
abbandonati e che solo la fede è riuscita a vincere. “Abbiamo sofferto
molto per il fatto di doverci lasciare indietro la nostra vita, le
nostre cose, la nostra storia, non sapendo dove andavamo e se saremmo
rimasti in vita”, ha detto tra le lacrime. Hanno quindi iniziato a
dormire in strada, in alcune tende nei parcheggi, soffrendo caldo e
La Croce, il motivo della sua espulsione
“Tutti siamo dovuti andare via da lì per questa croce”, ha detto
padre Naim mostrando un grande crocifisso. Essere cristiani era l’unico
motivo per il quale fuggivano o morivano. I cristiani, però, non hanno
rinnegato la loro fede per sopravvivere.
Il sacerdote siro-cattolico ha affermato orgoglioso che i cristiani
perseguitati del suo Paese “hanno una fede molto grande perché Dio è con
L’“arma” dei cristiani iracheni
Gli jihadisti hanno armi e bombe. “Noi abbiamo Dio e il Rosario come
arma”, ha affermato mostrando il crocifisso e il rosario, le uniche cose
che è riuscito a portare con sé quando ha dovuto lasciare in fretta
Qaraqosh. Non ha potuto prendere né vestiti né beni, solo quello che
aveva addosso e le sue due “armi”.
Malgrado le sofferenze che hanno sperimentato lui e il resto dei
cristiani della piana di Ninive, padre Naim ha insistito sul fatto che
“siamo riusciti a perdonare le persone dello Stato islamico”.
“Nell’accampamento con mia madre abbiamo provato sofferenza, dolore,
stanchezza, ma sempre con la certezza che Dio è con noi”.
Com’è riuscito a perdonare? È una domanda che gli pongono molti. La
sua risposta è chiara: “Quando Cristo era sulla croce, ha perdonato chi
lo stava uccidendo. Questa è la testimonianza che attende il mondo”.
L’anelito a tornare nelle proprie case
Sia padre Naim che migliaia di cristiani che vivono nei campi di
rifugiati vogliono solo tornare nelle loro case. Sa che molti cristiani
se ne sono andati per non tornare più, ma ce ne sono molte migliaia che
vogliono riprendere la propria vita dopo essere stati strappate da lì
tre anni fa.
“Perché dobbiamo abbandonare il nostro Paese, la nostra terra, la
nostra storia, i miei nonni, la mia Chiesa, la mia fede? Questo Paese lo
abbiamo fatto anche noi”, ha detto con decisione.
Per aiutare a realizzare questo anelito dei cristiani perseguitati è
stata avviata la campagna di ACS per aiutarli a ricostruire case e
chiese distrutte dallo Stato Islamico.
“Dio non ci abbandonerà”
Il sacerdote iracheno ha trasmesso il sentire dei suoi parrocchiani:
“Abbiamo la speranza di tornare a casa. Dio non ci abbandonerà, e
abbiamo anche la speranza che ci siano fratelli che ci aiuteranno”.
La sua esperienza di fede, ha aggiunto, gli ha mostrato che “Dio era
con noi in ogni momento, e non è mai lontano dalle persone che
soffrono”. Il sacerdote confida nella Provvidenza e nell’aiuto dei
cristiani d’Occidente, “i miei fratelli”.
“Vogliamo tornare, vogliamo vivere come cristiani in Iraq”, ha
aggiunto, avanzando anche una richiesta molto concreta: i cristiani
iracheni vogliono “celebrare il Natale in casa, mettere il presepe e
Una campagna senza precedenti di Aiuto alla Chiesa che Soffre
Questa campagna è quella di maggior spessore intrapresa da Aiuto alla
Chiesa che Soffre, ha affermato Javier Menéndez Ros, direttore di
questa fondazione pontificia in Spagna.
Tecnici e architetti della fondazione hanno visitato le località
cristiane della piana di Ninive casa per casa perché 12.000 famiglie vi
potessero tornare. In totale, 13.088 case sono state danneggiate dai
terroristi. Di queste, 8.291 sono state parzialmente distrutte, 3.357
bruciate e 1.234 totalmente distrutte.
363 edifici ecclesiali – parrocchie o cappelle – sono state colpite
dai terroristi: 197 sono state parzialmente distrutte, 132 date alle
fiamme e 34 completamente rase al suolo. Con la campagna “Aiutali a
tornare” si vuole rafforzare la presenza cristiana in questa zona
dell’Iraq, dalla quale sono stati espulsi 120.000 cristiani.
“Vogliamo tornare!”, ha concluso il suo intervento padre Naim, sapendo che la Provvidenza agirà per aiutarli.
giovedì, dicembre 14, 2017
By Christian Today
A Bible in Arabic taken from the ruins of a church in Iraq burned by
Islamic State has been presented to Prime Minister Theresa May.
The Bible, bearing scorch-marks from the fire, is from St Mary's in
Karamles, one of the Christian towns in the Nineveh Plain badly damaged
by the terrorist group. Karamles originally had 797 houses and of these,
464 have been burned, 97 have been completely destroyed by bombs and
the rest are damaged or vandalised. Christians have gradually been
returning there, helped by church-led organisations including Aid to the
Church in Need, but many are still afraid to go back.
Lisa Pearce, chief executive of Open Doors UK and Ireland, Father
Daniel from Erbil in Iraq and Conservative MP Caroline Spelman met the
Prime Minister yesterday in Parliament to highlight the plight of
Christians and minorities in the Middle East and ask for help in
securing a better future for them.
Daniel presented Mrs May with the Bible and later spoke to MPs, peers and church leaders.
The event came after 808,172 people from 142 countries signed a
petition, launched by Open Doors, asking the UK government and the
United Nations to ensure that Middle Eastern Christians and other
minorities enjoy the right to equal citizenship, dignified living
conditions and a prominent role in reconciling and rebuilding their
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Wednesday said it refused
to use the term “minorities” when referring to Christians and other
ethnic groups in Kurdistan as they are an “integral part” of the Region.
“The components that live in the Kurdistan Region are not minorities,
but are authentic components and have historical roots in this
country,” KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said, referring to
Christians and other non-Muslim religious groups, during a meeting with
representatives of Christian political factions.
The term “minorities” has often become a common word for senior Iraqi
executives in official documents, government communications, and press
conferences, although they are not included in the Constitution.
The Christians in Iraq have been subjected to increased violence
since 2003 when the former Iraqi regime—led by Saddam Hussein—collapsed,
prompting many of them to flee to the Kurdistan Region or move abroad
to Europe and America for security reasons.
The Christian population in Iraq was once as large as 1.5 million and
is believed to have now reached less than half of that, according to
recent government statistics.
Unlike Iraq, Kurdistan has been recognized as an oasis of calm and
stability, earning a positive reputation as a haven for all components
especially since the emergence of the Islamic State (IS).
When IS launched their blitzkrieg on the country in 2014, the
militant group targeted ethnic and religious components in Sinjar
(Shingal) and the Nineveh Plains, home to thousands of Christians.
“It is necessary to ensure the rights of Christians based on the law,
and to ensure their presence is felt in all areas of the Region,” Prime
Minister Barzani continued.
The KRG leader’s meeting with the Christian political factions
coincides with reports of unrest in the Nineveh Plains, which is
inhabited by Christians, Yezidis (Ezidis), Shabaks, and others.
The representatives of the Christian factions shared their concern
with Prime Minister Barzani on the current situation in Nineveh, while
also demanding the Iraqi government “reduce the military and security
forces in these areas,” a KRG statement read.
Iraqi forces took control of most of the Nineveh Plains in late 2016
after Kurdish Peshmerga forces launched an offensive to liberate the
area from IS.
'Tell me your dreams,' Father Daniel, an Iraqi priest in the northern city of Irbil asked the children he looks after.
The children's response was what they had grown used to seeing. To
kill, maim and seek revenge on those who had done the same to them
'On that day I was thinking if we didn't take care of our children
maybe the next generation of ISIS would come from our children. I was
really afraid of that,' he told Christian Today in an interview.
Through a series of classes and trauma clinics run through his church
in northern Iraq, he is gradually teaching the more than 350 children
who take refuge there the importance of forgiveness.
'Today if you ask me if I am really worried about the children I
would say no. I trust them. They have shown a positivity in the dealing
with so many negative cases that came from their neighbours.'
But his long-term dream is still to be realised.
At the age of 27 Father Daniel says he cannot remember any point in
his life where there was peace, growing up as he did with the Gulf War,
then being threatened by Al Qaida in Baghdad before the US-UK invasion
in 2003 and then the ISIS rampage. 'Every day, even if we hear some good
news, we are afraid that two minutes after we are going to get some bad
news,' he said. 'We don't have the hope.'
Now even with ISIS all but gone from Iraq, the residual bitterness
against other communities and the government, especially from
Kurdish-controlled Erbil, remains strong.
'There is always tension among Christians about the future,' says
Father Daniel. 'Many are uncertain about what will happen next. Are we
going to stay or are we going to leave? Of course this thinking not
coming from nothing. They have experienced negative and bad things that
started from the crisis where ISIS raided their villages and houses.
'Since then until there is no trust. They don't trust the government.
They don't trust their neighbours. When they left their houses,
villages and cities, their neighbours were the first to steal their
'So there are still tensions.'
For those tensions to subside, Christian leaders must be involved in the peacebuilding process, he says.
Father Daniel is in the UK to present a petition alongside the
Christian persecution charity Open Doors to the UK government - a
responsibility he says he bears heavily. It asks the foreign office to
protect the rights of religious minorities as both Syria and Iraq
rebuild after the trauma of ISIS' invasion. It also asks for decent
living conditions including jobs and houses, especially for returning
refugees and for faith leaders to have a prominent role in the
How Western governments should bring about these requests is another question.
Father Daniel expresses enthusiasm about the US Vice President Mike
Pence's announcement the State Department would divert aid money away
from the United Nations' programmes and straight to faith based
'I think it is a good idea to be in direct contact with the Iraqi
Christians,' he said. 'The Church can play a role that no government or
organisation in the world can do.'
The UK government is unlikely to follow the same path of antagonising
the UN as Trump's administration. But there is a frustration among
campaigners in the UK at the lack of tangible effort from the foreign
office to improve conditions for Christians in the Middle East.
Fearful of UNHCR refugee camps because they are dominated and run but
different faith groups who are hostile, Christians are excluded from
resettlement schemes in to the UK and forced to find shelter where they
can in nearby churches. Hundreds of thousands remain internally
displaced within their country but without a home.
Open Doors' petition hopes to raise awareness and funds to step in
where ministers are reluctant. Last year the global Open Doors
International network raised around $70 million for persecuted
Christians providing food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance,
safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian
literature, training and resources.
But unless the trend changes dramatically there will be few
Christians left to support. Open Doors UK is warning that 80 per cent of
Christians have left Iraq with as little as 200,000 remaining compared
to up to 2 million in the 1980s.
On top of that Christians made up between 8-10 per cent of the Syrian
population before 2011 with Aleppo the most Christian city with 400,000
believers. Now that number is around 60,000 and some estimates suggest
800,000 Christians have fled across the country.
The Chaldean Archbishops of Basra and
the south, Habib Jajou participated in the Conference on persecuted
Christians in the Middle East held in Brussels, Belgium between Tuesday
and Wednesday, 5-6 December on behalf of HB Mar Louis Raphael Sako. The
title of the Conference was: ‘Christmas after Daesh: Hope reborn for
Christians in the Middle East'. Memberes from the European Parliament
and Concerned Christian organizations have come to adopt an action in
support of the Iraqi and Syria Christians.
Archbishop Jajou called for urgent help
and more comprehensive action because Christians have been facing new
challenges. They have been fronting two scenarios: one of peace and the
second one of violence; ‘the extremist Muslims will try to lead Iraq to
be a permanent place of conflict’ he said. He mentioned what HB
addressed at a conference in Rome in Sep. 2017 that ‘Iraq is losing an
irreplaceable component of its society, the Christian one; hence the
countdown has begun for the vanishing of a genuine tradition!
Archbishop Jajou presented a Road Map included the following:
First, moving forward with social
resilience and protection of the national fabric of different religions,
cultures and backgrounds.
Second, educating the new generation and spreading optimistic concepts about life through social media.
Third, protecting ethnic minorities by a national and international law.
Fourth, calling the Iraqi government and
other policymakers to take legal decisions and decisive actions to
stand at the same space of everyone in a civil state.
Fifth, calling the Islamic religious
leaders to work with other cultural institutions and social media to
adopt a positive discourse that deepens the sense of citizenship;
Sixth, reforming the education
curriculums in schools to prepare a new and adequate educational program
to eradicate the fundamentalist ideology and to adapt it to the
requirements of modern times. Finally, he requested to redrafting the
Article 2 in the Iraqi Constitution and Article 26 in the Personal
Status Low which abuses other religions.
priest has told Premier that efforts by Islamic State (IS) to
indoctrinate children means erasing the group's ideology from the Middle
East could take ten years.
Fr Daniel arrived in London
to deliver a petition on Wednesday which urges the British Government
not to ignore the plight of persecuted believers and other minorities in
the region, many of whom have fled extremism and conflict.
taking over areas in Iraq, including the sprawling city of Mosul in the
Nineveh Plains, IS forced primary and secondary school-age children to
undergo a radical school curriculum.
Fr Daniel, who now supports traumatised children, said: "They planted
something very deep in their [the children's] minds and it will take a
very, very long time to remove all of these ideas."
27-year-old from Erbil joined the anti-persecution charity Open Doors UK
in encouraging ministers to commit to helping refugees and internally
displaced people return home, as IS is gradually forced out.
Asserting that the Iraqi church is ready to engage in the rebuilding
and reconciliation efforts, Fr Daniel also said: "During the time of
displacement when they were staying in the [refugee] centres, those
people [believers] were taught and were healed from their trauma.
"Now, they have more resilience so they can deal better with these cases."
petition, signed by 750,000 in 143 countries, urges that the rights of
Christians and other minorities as citizens of Middle Eastern countries
be recognised, and that they have access to "dignified" living
The document, which forms part of Open Doors' Hope for
the Middle East campaign, will be presented to peers and MPs in the
House of Parliament.
Click on the title of the post to listen to Premier's Alex Williams speaking with Fr Daniel.