The Jordan Times
Tuesday, August 3, 2004

The need for reconciliation

The recent attacks on churches in Iraq belonging to Chaldean, Assyrian,
Armenian and Catholic denominations represents an ominous turn of events in
Iraq, sending the message that no one is being spared in the spiralling
chaos that is Iraq today.

The five car bombs detonated outside five churches in Baghdad and Mosul
define a new target for those fanning the flames of instability in Iraq.
This deliberate attempt to spark yet another sectarian conflict comes at the
worst possible time, when religious rivalry and tensions between the Shiite
and Sunni Iraqis have reached new heights.

There is no doubt that those behind the attacks seek to sow distrust among
all ethnic and religious groups in Iraq for the ultimate purpose of further
weakening the country and having it fall prey to their distorted aims.

The Christian community in Iraq has long been active in the society and
contributed a great deal to the country's development on all fronts. There
are still around 800,000 Christians living in this Arab country. Many others
emigrated, seeking better living conditions. It would be a tragedy if more
Christian Iraqis were forced to flee their homeland to secure sanctuary in
Western countries.

Although Roman Catholic Chaldean Patriarch Rev. Emmanuel Delly, spoke
steadfastly about the unity of Christians and Muslims in Iraq following
Sunday's attacks, more effort must be exerted to prevent any further attacks
on Christians and their centres of worship.

Arab governments, including the Iraqi interim government, must condemn the
recent wave of violence in the strongest possible terms. All religious
communities, especially the Muslims within and outside Iraq, should issue an
immediate warning to the attackers to stop the carnage.

It must be remembered that Iraq has been a model of tolerance and peaceful
coexistence for its Muslim and Christian communities. The worst thing that
could happen now in the Middle East is to spark religious strife between the
followers of these faiths. This would shatter all hopes for a Middle East
that is free of religious and ethnic hatred.

The faction or factions who are bent on striking Christian targets must be
stopped. This urgent objective is linked to the larger imperative of
restoring law and order in the country.

There is legitimate fear that the expanding violence in Iraq will drive the
country to madness and bloodshed. That is precisely why it is important for
clerics of all faiths and denominations to condemn such acts and urge the
perpetrators and their supporters to follow the path of reconciliation if
Iraq and the entire Middle East are to be saved from the abyss.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress