Below are excerpts from an interview posted by François de Souche with the Orthodox Syriac Archbishop of Mosul concerning the plight of Christians in Iraq since the rise of the Islamic State. Many thanks to Ava Lon for the translation:
Iraq. Bishop Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf: “Wake up. Do not accept refugees who have made us refugees here”
By perubu on 12/31/2016
Interview with Monsignor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, Orthodox Syriac Archbishop of Mosul, Kurdistan and Kirkuk on the aleteia site. [http://aleteia.org/]
Q: Don’t you worry about the people who stayed behind in Mosul?
A: All Christians fled the city in 2014 from Daesh’s troops. Those who stayed, for the most part, welcomed them. Sometimes with open arms. The Sunni Muslim Arabs who live there are so fanatical that they could give lessons to the Saudis! They don’t accept anyone who doesn’t share their views. It must be remembered that in the aftermath of the abortive military coup of 1959, the epicenter of which was Mosul, Christians experienced the worst humiliations. In the city, confronted with the vendetta between tribes and the affirmation of a more radical Islam in the face of the secular “peril”, the Christians walked with a cloth on their shoulders. They handed it to their fellow Muslims, who had took habit of wiping their hands on their [Christians’] clothes. There wasn’t much respect at the time for the “kuffar” as they say (the “unbelievers” or non-Muslims, Nldr). We don’t have much more of it today either.
Q: Is the coalition likely to eradicate the Islamic state?
A: Western politics is diabolical. The interests of both parties are so contradictory that their chances of success are low. We ask only for the application of the law and respect for our dignity. In Saddam Hussein’s time, the law applied. In mostly Muslim Iraqi Kurdistan (where Christians in Mosul have found refuge in the Erbil area — Editor’s note), the law protects us and it protects us even better than elsewhere in Iraq. We are waiting for decisions to be taken to ensure international protection and the rules set by the United Nations.
Q: Do you have a message for Western Christians?
A: Wake up. Don’t accept refugees who have made us refugees here. On November 24, a new Orthodox Syriac church was consecrated in London in the presence of HRH Prince Charles. I was refused a visa by the embassy, lest I return to Iraq. I am a permanent resident in Australia and have the necessary visas to travel to the United States, Canada and even France. What was I supposed to have done in England when my people are here and suffer?