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Patriarch Louis Sako

February 8, 2016

MARRAKESH, Morocco - Iraq's Chaldean Catholic patriarch said increasing incidents of discrimination against Christians in Iraqi society are inciting fear and causing an exodus of Christians from their homeland.

In a speech circulated at a Jan. 25-27 conference on the rights of religious minorities in the Muslim world, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad cited Muslim contractors refusing to build homes, monasteries, etc., for Christians whom they identify as infidels.

The patriarch also pointed to the display of posters, even in public offices, asking Christian girls to wear a veil, following the example of Mary; a judge in Baghdad who dismissed a Christian from court, claiming that Christians are not accepted as witnesses in Iraqi courts; and militias in Baghdad who confiscated homes, lands and other properties of Christians.

Because of visa issues, Patriarch Sako was unable to attend the conference.

The patriarch said the current "miserable situation" in Iraq is due to the "intervention of external 'players'" with their own ambitions in the region.

He pointed to the year of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and stated: "Since 2003, Iraq is drifting under a systematically well-planned agenda aiming to dispose (of) Christians and other religious minorities."

Patriarch Sako called for opposition to extremism by "dismantling terrorism and eliminating it from its roots."

That can be accomplished through a culture of tolerance and a refusal to be complacent with those who encourage and call for violence and fanaticism, he said.