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Chaldean patriarchate mourns latest victims of anti-Christian violence in Baghdad


Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The Chaldean Patriarchate today declared a day of mourning and prayer in all of Baghdad’s churches to honour the memory of the latest victims of anti-Christian violence in the country.

In just over two weeks, two targeted killings have taken place, involving a young worker and an entire family, both in the capital, as tensions rise ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections in May.

“As we condemn the continuous shedding of Iraqi blood we ask all our children to wear a sign of mourning by pinning a black ribbon on their chest,” the Patriarchate said in a statement posted on its website.

Last Thursday evening, the members of a Christian family were stabbed to death by a group of men in Baghdad’s al-Mashtal neighbourhood.

The victims are Hisham Shafiq al-Maskuni, a 61-year-old doctor native of Baghdad, his wife Shaza Malik, and her mother Khairiya Dawood.

Government sources have reported the arrest of the attackers over the weekend.

Saad Maan, a spokesperson for Iraq’s Interior Ministry, said Saturday evening that they had “arrested a band”, also responsible for other crimes and acts of violence in the past.

According to some reports, the family was killed during a robbery that went horribly wrong. In addition to killing the victims, the assailants stole money and some precious items from their home.

For now, there is no official confirmation about the motive behind the crime. However, Church sources in the capital note that this was not an isolated incident. On the morning of 25 February, another Christian, Samer Jajjo, was also murdered in Baghdad, in cold blood by a group of armed men in front of his home.

The young Christian man, a married father of two, had just left home for work in a paint shop near the Shorja market.

Various Iraqi civic and religious Sunni and Shia leaders have expressed solidarity and closeness to the Christian community, including the Speaker of Iraq’s Parliament Salim Jubouri, who stressed that “targeting Christians” means striking at “national unity”.

For the political leader, this is a “serious threat” and “must be approached in every way and by all means” in order to prevent the country from being emptied of “its original components”.

Yesterday Chaldean Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael Sako, accompanied by the patriarchal vicar Mgr Shlemon Warduni, priests, believers and representatives of civil society groups, visited (pictured) the house of the slain family, where he laid a candle and led the funeral prayer.

Security Ministry officials and police forces also joined the brief prayer meeting.

The leaders of the Chaldean Church have called for the punishment of the authors of this act of violence, so as to show that the blood of innocent people cannot be shed in vain.

Such “cold-blooded” murders, often due to money issues, show the “lack of security” in the country.

At the same time, it is becoming increasingly urgent “to promote a culture of peace, life, respect for others and coexistence.”

This afternoon at 5.30 the Chaldean Patriarchate will hold a Mass in St Joseph’s Church in Baghdad, where the latest victims of anti-Christian violence will be remembered.

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