“ It is not enough to say that ISIS does not represent Islam” 

Archbishop Bashar Warda of Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil (Iraq) said that it is not enough for Muslims to say that the Islamic State (ISIS) does not represent them. Christians in Iraq “need more”.

he said. He encouraged Muslim countries to” take a step forward in order to help rebuild the Christian peoples, the Yazidis, and show some sign of solidarity. “

The Iraqi Archbishop believes that leaders of Muslim and Western countries can do much to protect religious minorities and to rebuild their communities. “We Christians, who have undergone persecutions with patience and faith for fourteen hundred years, now face an existential struggle. Maybe it will be the last fight we will face in Iraq, “he said. “Without the end of this persecution and violence, there is no future for religious pluralism in Iraq or anywhere in the Middle East,” he warned.

After suffering the ISIS attack in 2014, more than 125,000 Christians left the Nineveh Plain in Iraq. In a single night, the ISIS took almost everything in the area, leaving the Christians “without shelter, without refuge, without work, without properties, without monasteries, without the capacity to participate in anything that gives dignity to our lives.”

“And yet we are still there, flagellated, wounded, but we are still there,” he said. “Few are there, some estimate that 200,000 Christians or less,” said Bishop Warda. However, he pointed out that, “while it is true that our numbers are small, the apostles were even fewer.”

Archbishop Warda assured that Iraqi Christians “forgive those who murdered us, who tortured us, who raped us, who tried to destroy everything about us.” He added “We forgive them in the name of Christ. We say this to our Muslim neighbours: learn this from us. Let us help you heal. Your wounds are as deep as ours. We pray for your healing. Let us heal together our wounded and tortured countries. “

Bishop Warda said that “there is a fundamental crisis within Islam itself and if this crisis is not recognized, addressed and organized, then there can be no future for Christians in the Middle East.”

“We have heard some bold voices from Islamic leaders regarding the need for change and the need to openly address this issue. This should be encouraged, “he said. In this sense, the Archbishop recognized the work of the United Arab Emirates, which “since the attack of the ISIS were with us helping all: Catholics, Yazidis and Muslims.”

Meanwhile, the Archbishop continues to work to achieve sustainable solutions for the reconstruction of his community in northern Iraq. Bishop Warda also appealed to Catholics in the West to offer spiritual, moral, political and material help to Iraqi Christians rebuild their communities.

“How will the West react? My question is not rhetorical. Christians in the Middle East want to know the answer,” he said.

ACN Malta