A Chaldean Catholic archbishop from southern Iraq has warned that the country’s beleaguered Christian community still feels pessimistic about the future, despite the recent announcement by the government that troops have defeated Daesh.
Archbishop Habib Al Nawfali of Basra told Catholic News Service: “The daily practice of robberies, gang rapes, torture and murder of Christians is ongoing. Therefore, they are pondering what will be next. We are afraid of another wave of persecution that will be the end of Christians.”
The archbishop, who spoke on the fringes of a meeting on intercultural dialogue sponsored by the European Parliament in early December, said politicians in the West should lobby the Iraqi government to ensure that the Christian minority is protected.
He said that he believed up to 1 million Christians have fled the country since the 2003 US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. He described the exodus of Christians from their ancient homeland as a “disaster.”
Basra is home to some 2 million Iraqis, and he said Christians’ experience with the Islamic community is mixed. He said most Muslims in the city are “moderate and they don’t care for religious fanaticism. They treat us Christians equally with dignity and respect.”
Picture: An Iraqi woman prays during Mass in 2015 at a Catholic church in Basra. Archbishop Habib Al Nawfali of Basra warned that the country’s Christian community still feels pessimistic about the future, despite the recent announcement by the government that troops have defeated Daesh. (CNS photo/Essam Al-Sudani, Reuters).