By Omar al-Jaffal, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon Louis Sako boycotted the National Conference on the Protection of Peaceful Coexistence, the Ban of Hatred and the Fight against Terrorism and Extremism held in the Iraqi parliament Feb. 7. Sako thought it was “useless to participate in conferences of slogans and mere talk that do not result in effective measures on the ground.”
Sako, the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, seemed angry at the government’s failure to take steps to protect Iraq’s Christians, 120,000 of whom were displaced and whose properties in Islamic State-controlled Mosul were confiscated in June 2014. The Christians’ plight was also overlooked in Baghdad, where influential parties took over their residences.
On Feb. 5, Sako pleaded in a public statement, “I call on the conscience of officials in the Iraqi government and on religious authorities to take actions that preserve people’s lives, dignity and properties, regardless of their identity. They are humans and Iraqis.” He went so far as to say, “Practices against Christians are against religious messages and can be classified as genocide of a different type.”
Perhaps Sako could not come out and say directly that Christians were being displaced and their houses stolen in Baghdad, as his status as a religious leader obliges him to be diplomatic. But in a June 2015 television interview, Mohammed al-Rubaie, a member of Baghdad’s provincial council, shared statistics showing that influential parties had taken control of 70% of the houses of Christians who were displaced from Baghdad to destinations outside Iraq. Rubaie added that these influential parties managed to change the ownership of the houses in the government’s real estate records to the names of influential people.