Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki promises to protect Christians

Baghdad, Iraq, Dec.09, 2008 (vaticans.org) - Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki has promised his governments commitment to protect Iraq’s Christians following coordinated attacks on convents and churches on January 6th. Yesterday he met with Apostolic Nuncio, Msgr. Francis Assisi Chullikatt, and condemned th e Epiphany attacks in Mosul and Baghdad guaranteeing those responsible will be found and punished.

A statement released from al-Maliki’s office underlines that the Iraqi governments desire to promote “strong and friendly links with the nation’s Christian groups” and insisting that “peaceful coexistence is possible”. The premier told the Holy See representative that “Christians and Muslims are united in the face of terrorists and outlaws” and that violence in the nation “targets all religious groups”. Al-Maliki had already promised greater protection for the nation’s Christians last October, in the aftermath of Chaledan Patriarch, card. Emmanuel III Delly had denounced systematic attacks against Churches and ecclesial institutions in the country.

Iraq Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi also condemned Sunday’s attacks. In a declaration released on his website the deputy head of state “condemns and denounces these terrorist attacks and declares his sympathy with the Christian brothers and stands with them in the face of these unjust attacks which turned celebrations into grief and worry”.

Commenting the dynamite explosions, which did not cause any deaths, the nuncio in Iraq and Jordan defined them “sad new reality that creates anxiety” and underlined that “had these attacks been carried out a few hours earlier, the out come would have been a shocking massacre”. Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told reporters that during the meeting Maliki had renewed his invitation to the Pope to visit Iraq.

Source: Agencies

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