“Baghdad ha perduto la sua bellezza e non ne è rimasto che il nome.
Rispetto a ciò che essa era un tempo, prima che gli eventi la colpissero e gli occhi delle calamità si rivolgessero a lei, essa non è più che una traccia annullata, o una sembianza di emergente fantasma”
Almost 200 Iraqi Christian families
filed a lawsuit against the head of Iraq’s Shia Endowment, Sheikh Alaa
Al-Mousawi, on charges of incitement of sectarian violence against
Christians after he used rhetoric reminiscent of extremist group Daesh
and called for religious minorities to either convert to Islam or be
Al-Mousawi, who is in charge of the
government body which maintains all of Iraq’s Shia holy sites, including
mosques, Huseiniyas and schools, sparked anger as he declared
Christians to be “infidels” during a religious sermon he gave in
southern Iraq, according to local media.
The senior government appointed Shia
cleric described the Christians as “infidels and polytheists” and
stressed the need for “jihad” against them. He has also said that “Jews
and Christians” must be fought and killed if they do not accept Islam,
with the same fate awaiting Zoroastrians as well as Sabians, another
Iraqi religious community.
In a video from the religious sermon, Al-Mousawi can clearly be seen inciting against Christians and other minorities:
Either they convert to Islam, or else they are killed or they pay the jizya (a tax on non-Muslims).
Many have accused him of imitating the
rhetoric of Daesh extremists by stating that Iraqi Christians must
either convert to Islam, pay a religious tax on non-Muslims known as the
jizya, or else be killed.
In 2014, Daesh imposed the exact same
conditions on Christians in Iraq’s northern provinces, forcing more than
100,000 to leave their homes in fear for their lives. One of the
oft-cited reasons behind the western intervention against Daesh was the
risk they posed to not only Christians, but other religious minorities
including the Yazidis.
Senior European Christian leaders
denounced Daesh for threatening Christian communities in Iraq – one of
the country’s oldest communities – with clerics such as the Archbishop
of Canterbury, Justin Welby, adding an Arabic “N” to his Twitter profile
in solidarity with Iraq’s Christians.
So far, no western official has commented
on one of Iraq’s most senior government Shia clerics issuing the same
threats as Daesh, despite Iraq being a key ally in the fight against the
extremist group that has persecuted all religious groups in the
war-ravaged country since 2014.
Al-Mousawi has responded by sending a
delegation from the Endowment to the Babylonian Christian Movement to
mediate the lawsuit and the allegations that his comments have mirrored
Daesh’s extremist rhetoric.
Iraq’s Shia clerical establishment as well
as its numerous Shia jihadist militias have long been accused of
religious extremism, having perpetrated numerous sectarian atrocities
against the Sunni Arab community as well as other minority groups.