Iraq’s Chaldean church rejects armed Christian militias

Iraq’s Chaldean church on Wednesday (July 24th) evening said it rejects the formation of armed Christian militias and stressed the importance of restricting weapons in the hands of the state.

In a statement signed by Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, the church said it approves the July 1st decree issued by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi ordering the integration of all armed groups into the Iraqi army.

"We would like to affirm that the Chaldean Church supports this decree and considers it to be a step in the right direction as it would restrict weapons to the state and its institutions," it said, adding that this step improves Iraqis' understanding that they share a national identity.

"As far as we are concerned, we officially and categorically reject the presence of a Christian faction or armed militia," it said.

"Rather, we encourage our sons to join the official security agencies in the Iraqi army and Iraqi Federal Police," it said, adding that Christians residing in the Kurdish region are encouraged to join the Peshmerga forces.

Armed factions in the name of Christianity "run against the very spirit of the Christian faith which calls for love, forgiveness and peace", said the statement.

"This is in keeping with the position of many political entities and with our message as Iraqi Christians to support the necessary conditions for co-existence and harmony," it said.

The church calls for "strengthening the pillars of a strong state; a state of law, citizenship and equality", it said.

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