Iraqi Christians during a mass at the Saint-Joseph church in Erbil. File photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan – The Iraqi government and all Iraqis must stand up in support of their neighbours, the United Nations’ country representative urged in a statement reacting to recent attacks on minorities.
“Iraq draws its strength from its cultural and religious diversity, and its rich history. This treasure should be protected and nurtured by the Government and the people of Iraq,” Jan Kubis stated.
The Iraqi government must “take active steps to support and protect these communities, to ensure the return of minorities who suffered from Daesh persecution to their homes, and urges the religious, political and civic leaders as well as the general public to stand up for their fellow vulnerable citizens,” read a statement from Kubis’ office, UNAMI.
Kubis said it was the unity of all Iraqis that defeated ISIS and in the new Iraq “there is no place for intolerance and discrimination, for targeting and suppressing minorities.”
Last week, a Christian doctor, his wife, and mother were stabbed to death in Baghdad. Police announced yesterday they had made arrests
in the case.
In Iraq’s last census in 1987, some 1.5 million Christians were counted. Prior to ISIS, local groups estimate the Christian population was 400,000 – 600,000. About half the population have left Iraq since 2014 and around 130,000 sought shelter in the Kurdistan Region.
Kubis also referred to a recent kidnapping and murder of a Sabean Mandaean shop owner in Baghdad and the attempted murder of another in his shop in Nassiriyah. In that case, his Muslim neighbours intervened and the man survived the stabbing.