Louis Raphaël I Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon, said in an October 18, 2019 interview on Sharqiya News TV (Iraq) that Iraqi school curricula that speak ill of Jews and Christians should be rewritten entirely to discuss comradery, citizenship, and respect towards other religions. When asked about Christian militias that fought against ISIS, Sako said that there are no militias fighting on behalf of Christianity and that he had asked leaders in the PMU to prevent Christian parts of the PMU from identifying themselves as Christian. He expressed opposition to Christians taking up arms and fighting in the name of Christianity. In addition, Sako said that Christians in Iraq and Nineveh have been very hurt by Islamic terrorism in the region and that they are broken, unhappy, and discriminated against by the state and employers.
Following are excerpts:
Louis Raphaël I Sako: School curricula [in Iraq] are old fashioned. The Ministry of Education should torch them all and write new ones instead that will talk about comradery and citizenship, and that will talk respectfully about religions. The new [textbook] for the fifth or sixth grade speaks ill of the Jews and the Christians. The Jews are not the same as the Zionists. Christians are not hypocrites or polytheists as written there.
Interviewer: There is an armed [Christian] faction that participated in the war against ISIS. Now it is said that it will participate in protecting the Nineveh plains.
Louis Raphaël I Sako: We do not have a Christian faction [fighting] on behalf of Christianity. I met with Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis three times, as well as with Hadi Al-Ameri, and told them to let this faction stay in the PMU but without any Christian characteristics. Just like there are Sunnis, Turkmen, and so forth in the PMU that are not referred to as Turkmen and Yazidi factions… We Christians categorically oppose having factions [fighting] in the name of Christianity. There are [Christian] warriors and mujahideen within the PMU. The PMU has done a good job fighting ISIS and we respect and salute them. But if some [faction] says it is Christian and that it [fights] in the name of Christians, Chaldeans, or Syriac Christians, we reject this. This is not in keeping with our moral values. We do not usually take up arms, and if we want to defend our country, we join the military or the Federal Police.
Interviewer: How are the Christians in Iraq doing, especially in the freed areas of Nineveh?
Louis Raphaël I Sako: The Christians in Iraq are marginalized, broken, and unhappy. The state does not care about them and Islamic fundamentalism hurt them bad. [They were hurt by] the Islamic extremism that evolved into terrorism – ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and other out-of-control militias that plunder, kill, and kidnap in the name of religion. There are many cases of Christian houses, property, and even jobs being taken over.
Interviewer: Is it difficult for Christians to get jobs?
Louis Raphaël I Sako: Very difficult.
Interviewer: You mean that there’s no…
Louis Raphaël I Sako: Several thousands of people were recently hired by the Ministry of Education. Ask how many of them were Christian men and women. This is despite the fact that we have [capable people].
Interviewer: Is this because of discrimination on the part of the state? Is this discrimination on the part of political parties, or is it just a coincidence?
Louis Raphaël I Sako: No, this is all planned. It is no coincidence.
Louis Raphaël I Sako: Absolutely!