Media Statement from Australian Christians:
Songs of peace and love fill western churches as smoke rises from the rubble of eastern churches falling to jihadist ideologues. Iraq is experiencing an emptying out of its Christian communities that date back to the first centuries including Chaldean, Assyrian and Armenian churches.But who cares?
Secular media seem unable or unwilling to grasp the religious cleansing we are witnessing. Rather than lament and advocate for those Eastern Christians and other minorities being religiously cleansed, there appears to be a devotion to avoiding vilification of Muslim minorities and in so doing, the plight of those being religiously cleansed from their homelands is often overlooked.
While tongues are being silenced in western communities, Louis Sako appointed in 2013 as the new Patriarch of Baghdad, broke with the Church's long-standing convention that speaking out about the problems would only make them worse. He admonished his congregation with these words: "I know your fears," … But you have been here for 2,000 years and are at the origin of this country, together with the Muslims. Why is the little flock still afraid? Do not emigrate, whatever the pressures." Continuing, Sako said to The Sunday Telegraph:
"Christianity in the Middle East has always encouraged its people to rely on the protection of the law, not the tribe," "Right now, the law here in Iraq is very weak."
And it seems apparent, that tribalism is gaining strength. Inadvertently perhaps we are supporting tribalism?
Iraqi Christians are crying for help to strengthen Iraqi law and order in their beloved homeland. Opening up western borders to a flood of Iraqi refugees as ‘the only solution’ is at odds with the pleas of many Christian leaders across the Arab world urging them not to leave. But to stay they will need our help, not our abandonment.
Sako said, unlike their Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish neighbors, Christians have no militias to protect them.
An Erbil-based civil engineer put it this way: “When everything got violent, the Shiites received help from Iran, the Sunnis had the Gulf, and us? Well, we were left unprotected”. Aziz Emmanuel al-Zebari, a Chaldean Catholic church official said: “In opening its doors (to refugees), the U.S. is weakening those who are left behind.
Strengthening and supporting Iraqi Christians and all who support the law over tribalism should be the goal. Abandoning villages to be ransacked by ISIS as the Iraqi military recently did should not be the standard of those who support religious and civil liberty.
The writing is on the wall. Prior to 2003 the Christian population of Mosul numbered 130,000. Until early June 2014, there were 10,000. After the ISIL took over the city last month, only 2,000 Christians remain.That’s religious cleansing. As the Barnabas Fund reports: ‘atrocities by Islamic militants have been forcing Christians to flee their homes in Iraq for many years. Christians have been targeted with kidnappings and brutal killings to make it clear they are not welcome.’They have also been subjected to financial oppression with the reintroduction of the jizya – a tax on non-Muslims for living as second class citizens in the Islamic state.
Iraq was once home to 135,000 Jews. Today less than ten Jews remain in the entire country. Lest we forget.
Australian Christians seek to loose the tongue of the silent majority to support the persecuted minorities wherever they may be. There needs to be a shift from concern about Islamophobia to addressing the real fears resulting in the religious cleansing of Iraq’s indigenous population.
Australian Christians is a federal political party with the goal of representing the values and concerns of the 2.7 million Christian Australians who attend church once a month or more, and others who identify with these values and human rights concerns.
Vickie Janson, Victorian State Director
M: 0411 298 464