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January 20, 2015 7:28 pm

Iraqi Christian Leader Calls on Muslims to Lead Fight Against Islamic Fundamentalism

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A map of the Nineveh Plains region, from where Iraqi Christians have been displaced. Credit: Courtesy of Ramy Jajo.

JNS.orgChaldean Catholic Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael I Sako called on Muslims to lead the fight to “dismantle the fundamentalist ideology” that has become a pervasive force in their religion.

“We call upon our fellow Muslims to take the initiative and lead a campaign of rejecting any sectarian discrimination,” Patriarch Sako said at a conference in Baghdad over the weekend that was organized by the Iraqi Center for Diversity Management, Asia Newsreported.

Islamic State jihadists conquered wide swaths of northern Iraq last summer, displacing more than 1.8 million Iraqis, including Christians, from their ancient homelands. According to estimates, more than 125,000 Christians from the city of Mosul and the Nineveh Plains region were displaced.

These Christian communities “are now marginalized,” Sako said. Iraqi Christians “have been treated in a harsh and brutal manner,” and today in Mosul and the Nineveh Plains there “is not a single Christian left,” he said.

Sako blamed these developments not only the terrorism of Islamic State, but also on the “takfiris” ideology, which considers Muslims opposed to the ideology of violence and oppression to be “unbelievers.”

In his speech, Sako outlined several proposals in order to build a more tolerant Iraq—including building an open and enlightened Islamic religion through reviewing texts, adopting the appropriate interpretation of texts, and ending the influence of those who persuade young people to use violence in the name of religion. Sako also called on Muslim religious and political authorities to play a lead role in overcoming violence.

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