Friday the 16th of April

...to the ends of the earth

“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

For Chaldeans who fled Iraq, New Zealand attacks brought back memories

The St Addai Chaldean Catholic community in suburban Auckland felt the impact of the Christchurch mosque killings with a special poignancy, because many members have experienced the sufferings inflicted by terrorism.

“There is a lady in my community – they beheaded her son in front of her,” Chaldean Fr Douglas Al-Bazi told NZ Catholic. “Another man, they killed his parents in front of him.”

Fr Al-Bazi, who was kidnapped for nine days by Islamic militants in 2006 in Iraq, suffering serious injuries – including being shot in the leg by an assailant wielding an AK-47 – said that when he heard of the events in Christchurch, he was “really angry.”

“There were thousands of questions in my head, and also for my people,” he said.

He said he told his parishioners that “we fully understand as Iraqi people, especially Christian, we really understand” the pain, “because we are survivors of genocide, systematic genocide.”

“I am still shocked, me and my people, how this could happen here in New Zealand,” he added.

Fr Al-Bazi said people at his church have said they are scared in the wake of the events in Christchurch, fearful of revenge attacks.

Picture: Members of the Chaldean Catholic community in Papatoetoe, New Zealand, placed flowers and a tribute outside Ayesha Mosque after the 15th March 2019 attacks on two mosques in Christchurch. The message reads in part: ‘Please accept our prayer and condolences in this terrible, painful time. God have mercy on the people and we pray for the injured ones. Your brothers, St Addai Catholic Church, New Zealand.’ (CNS photo/courtesy NZ Catholic).