The following interview was conducted by Robert Lalonde, head of information for ACN Canada, on Monday, September 1st, 2014, with Father Majid McDassy o.p., Dominican fathers convent in Baghdad
Have any northern Iraqis moved towards Baghdad?
Yes. In fact, families are beginning to move and to come to Baghdad in order to seek refuge.
What do you estimate their numbers to be and how do they manage to meet their basic needs?
We don’t have exact statistics, but after communicating with some priests, there seem to be about a hundred refugee families in Baghdad.
Are you worried about the security of Christians in the capital?
Yes indeed, as the series of abductions has continued in Baghdad and each abducted person must pay a considerable amount (sometimes over $100,000 US) to obtain his or her freedom. Unfortunately, for a Christian, there is no tribe to protect him or her or to pay a ransom. We are simply easy prey, living in an aggressive society. And bombings are multiplying and continue to take innocent lives every day.
What is the present climate in the streets of Baghdad?
There is a climate of fear and distrust. We are also waiting for a new government to form and to begin establishing order in Iraq.
Are there any events to report which would particularly concern Christians in Baghdad?
To start with, the abductions terrify us. Then, the inequality, namely the fact of being Christian, which leads to us to being marginalized in Iraqi society.
According to you, what is this conflict based on?
When everything is tangled up, such as religion (Sunni and Shiite), politics (power of domination), economy (petroleum) and tribalism, the agendas of neighbouring countries with great international powers all of this obviously results in a considerable basis of permanent conflict.
Do you see a solution?
There is no quick, immediate and close solution falling from the sky at this time. We must plan a solution beginning with the liberation of the Nineveh valley. Then, we must immediately begin to reimburse our exiled families, as the Islamic State (IS) has stolen all of their goods. There is also the international community, which must put pressure on Baghdad’s central government so that we are respected and our rights are given back to us.
An Iraqi Christian is always marginalized in this country.
How do you foresee the future of Christianity in Iraq?
Answering this question is very difficult; the reality is harsh and also, we must be optimistic and act as people who carry hope for ourselves and for others. A hard future is ahead, because the Iraqi society does everything for islamization and we are victims of this project. The islamization project easily finds its place, in schools as well as in the whole education system. An example of this is that, in Iraq, we are learning the Arabic language through the Qur’anic verses. The following observations certainly lead to reflection on the future in Iraq:
In Iraq, there is no equality and room for the small minority is always violated;
Iraqi law is based on the foundation of Islamic law;
A Christian does not find work easily. And when he finds work, he remains undesirable, as our values go against the grain. For example, we don’t accept corruption;
A Christian cannot easily exert his rights; he’s always a loser;
The condition of Christian women in this society is not easy;
In short, the future of those who are different and do not share the same faith, the same skin color and the same opinion remains unknown in this country!
Do you have a message to transmit to our benefactors?
A word of thanks to our benefactors, because it is thanks to your donations, that children and seniors can go on with their lives with dignity. Your donations are our consolation in this moment of distress. We feel that we are not alone and that we have brothers and sisters throughout the world who think of us, pray for us and work for us. It’s a Eucharistic gesture which carries a sense of giving and of sharing with others. Despite our misery, your goodness heals our wounds. Despite the IE’s presence, the weed in the body of humanity, you are there, the good-willed people who sow joy in others. It’s evangelization in action. May God bless you!