Why Christians Oppose Own Autonomous Region

By Mustafa Saadoun for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Why Iraqi Christians are against the establishment of their own autonomous region

The secretary-general of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and member of the Iraqi parliament, Yonadam Kanna (pictured), spoke to Al-Monitor about the unwillingness of Iraqi Christians to establish an autonomous region of their own or call for an administrative or geographic split from Iraq.

Kanna said that the Council of Minister’s decision to make the Ninevah Plains a governorate on demographic grounds did not equate with the establishment of an autonomous region, describing any step toward that end — which is based on religious or sectarian motivations — to be “racist” and incompatible with the values of Iraqi Christians.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Kanna called for the need to “protect the Christian constituency of Iraq.”

The text of the interview follows:

Al-Monitor:  There are those who call for a Christian autonomous region in Iraq. But in your capacity as the representative of Christians in Iraq’s parliament, you have failed to submit any official request to that effect. Have you taken any steps toward that end?

Kanna:  As Christians and representatives of the Christian constituency in Iraq’s parliament, we have neither called for the establishment of an autonomous region nor demanded secession from Iraq, or even the isolation of certain areas from the rest of the country.

What happened was that some European and American parties — as part of their strategies to defend Iraqi Christians — demanded, through statements or press releases, that Iraqi Christians be given an autonomous region. In other words, those who made such demands are people outside of Iraq, while we — who work hard in parliament — espouse the principles prescribed in Iraq’s constitution and proclaim the importance of living as part of a single homeland that unites Iraqis of all ilk.

We further think that calls for the establishment of an autonomous region are racist in nature and serve to isolate us from one another.

Al-Monitor:  What delayed transforming the Ninevah Plains from a province to a governorate? What was the reasoning behind your call to institute such a transformation? Was it based on religious, demographic or political grounds or motivated by a fear that Christians would be deprived of a place of their own in Iraq?

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