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WikiLeaks: 2008-07-13: 08BAGHDAD2175: Ambassador's July 9 Meeting with Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Delly

by WikiLeaks. 08BAGHDAD2175: July 13, 2008.

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2013 at 03:46 PM UT


Viewing cable 08BAGHDAD2175, AMBASSADOR'S JULY 9 MEETING WITH CHALDEAN

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08BAGHDAD2175 2008-07-13 09:21 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO5714
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2175/01 1950921
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 130921Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8288
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 002175 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/12/2018 
TAGS: KIRF PGOV PHUM PREL IZ
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S JULY 9 MEETING WITH CHALDEAN 
PATRIARCH CARDINAL DELLY 
 
REF: BAGHDAD 1953 
 
BAGHDAD 00002175  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
Classified By: By Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker for reasons 1.4(b) and (d) 
. 
 
SUMMARY 
--------- 
 
1. (C) Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Emmanuel Karim Delly 
thanked the Ambassador for all he has done for Iraqis of all 
religions.  He noted the security situation had perceptibly 
improved for minorities over the past months, although fear 
remained pervasive.  Delly emphasized the need to focus on 
the interests of all Iraqis, that Christians do not want 
special treatment, but only to be considered Iraqis like all 
others.  He deplored the marginalization of Christians, 
specifically in public sector employment, certain laws that 
discriminate against Christians, and inadequate public 
services for villages in the north.  Delly praised PM 
Maliki's statements in support of minorities, but said that 
concrete action is needed.  Delly suggested that the trial 
and conviction of the alleged kidnapper of the Archbishop of 
Mosul this year was a charade and that the GOI had not 
pressed its investigation.  As for upcoming provincial 
elections, Delly believes Christians should be allotted a 
quota of 3.5 percent of seats, which he claimed would be 
proportionate to their population.  Delly also advocated 
self-administration for Christian villages, but stressed he 
did not want to bring about a Christian "ghetto."  Delly was 
critical of U.S. Forces, claiming they had damaged religious 
facilities during searches and did not intervene when Church 
properties were vandalized and looted.  END SUMMARY. 
 
SECURITY IMPROVED, BUT SITUATION STILL DISMAL 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (C) In a July 9 meeting with the Ambassador, Chaldean 
Patriarch Cardinal Emmanual Karim Delly observed that 
circumstances for Christians were difficult, but that there 
was improvement, especially with regard to security.  In 
spite of that, Delly said there was still pervasive fear, 
which was exacerbated by a lack of economic opportunity, 
driving people to flee the country.  Delly, who was 
accompanied by his assistant, Bishop Shlaimoon Wardouni, said 
the time had come to focus on the public interest and not 
individual interests; the improvement in security had to be 
accompanied by improvement in services. Throughout the 
meeting, Delly repeated that Christians wanted to be regarded 
as Iraqis and wanted to cooperate and work towards an Iraq 
for all Iraqis.  "Religion is for God, but the homeland is 
for everybody," he said.  The Cardinal expressed his 
gratitude for freedom of worship in Iraq, but he argued there 
was in reality only limited religious freedom, due to the 
marginalization of Christians. 
 
MARGINALIZATION RESULT OF UNJUST LAWS, CORRUPTION 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
3.  (C) Delly believes Christians are emigrating because they 
are being marginalized.  According to Delly, 25 percent of 
educated Iraqis are Christians, but they are dealt with as 
though they were "illiterate Iraqis from the Marshlands." 
Claiming that Christians had been purged from good jobs in 
two unspecified GOI ministries (he declined to name which 
ministries), Delly said that whenever an official gets a high 
government position, he appoints subordinates only from his 
own religion or political party.  He railed against the 
ceilings limiting the number of Christian doctors in public 
service.  With ebbing work opportunities, the wealthier 
Christian population had taken flight and was waiting to 
return.  Christian parishioners had once been 
self-sufficient, Delly suggested, but now the churches needed 
to organize support networks.  Barred from more established 
trades, many could only count on ad hoc employment, like 
construction, restaurant work, or selling alcohol.  Saying 
his own vocation was to speak on behalf of beleaguered Iraqi 
Christians, the Patriarch nonetheless volunteered that many 
Iraqi Muslims were enduring worse hardships. 
 
4.  (C) Delly deplored a 1972 law which stipulates that if 
either partner in a marriage converts to Islam, all children 
borne of that marriage under the age of 18 automatically 
become Muslim.  Delly claimed that 1,800 such cases exist, 
adding that minors should keep the religion they were born 
into and be given the chance to decide whether they want to 
convert upon reaching the age of 18.  (Note:  In May 2008, 
Delly appealed to Minister of Human Rights Wijdan Salim to 
attempt to get the law repealed.  Salim wrote to the Council 
of Ministers (CoM) in June; the CoM acknowledged her letter 
this month.  Whether further action will be taken remains to 
be seen.  End note.)  Delly also referred to a law that 
 
BAGHDAD 00002175  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
requires non-Muslim religious institutions to pay a 10 
percent tax on their properties, whereas Muslim religious 
institutions do not.  According to Delly, Minister of 
Education Khudair Al-Khuzai (Da'wa Party), whom he termed "a 
fanatic," does not allow Christian teachers to instruct 
Christian children, and deprives Christian children from 
receiving religious instruction in school, as do Muslim 
children.  If there is one Muslim child, then Islam must be 
taught in the school.  Let us do the same for Christians, he 
argued. 
 
5.  (C) On another legal matter, Delly commented that the May 
2008 trial and conviction of the alleged kidnapper of the 
Archbishop of Mosul, Paulus Faraj Rahho, who died in 
captivity, was a charade, pointing out that many others must 
have been involved, but only one man was put on trial and 
sentenced. 
 
POLITICAL REPRESENTATION FOR MINORITIES 
--------------------------------------- 
 
6.  (C) Cardinal Delly claimed that 3.5 percent of Iraqis 
were Christian and called for political representation 
commensurate with their numbers.  Delly said he had warned 
UNAMI SRSG de Mistura that no Christian candidates would win 
seats in upcoming elections.  He appealed for a quota, 
whether elected or not, suggesting five representatives each 
for Baghdad and Mosul and two for Basrah.  He asked the 
Ambassador to raise the question with the GoI.  (Note: Delly 
was presumably referring to Provincial Council representation 
but he did not clarify.  End Note.)  With regard to the 
Turkoman and Arab proposal to allocate Kirkuk Provincial 
Council seats 32-32-32-4 among Kurds, Turkomans, Arabs, and 
all minorities, Delly complained that such an arrangement 
would effectively leave Christians with only a single seat. 
 
BAGHDAD PREFERABLE TO REMOTE AREAS 
---------------------------------- 
 
7.  (C) Delly claimed that one-half of all Christians in Iraq 
reside in Baghdad, because that is where they have the best 
chance of finding work.  He said that Christian villages in 
the north lack adequate educational and medical facilities 
adding that in the village of Tel Kaif, a hospital was built, 
but not opened.  Villages in Ninewa similarly lacked schools 
and clinics, with women forced to take a taxi to Mosul to 
give birth in proper conditions. Delly appealed for 
assistance in assisting these impoverished villages. 
 
MALIKI, ELECTIONS, POLITICAL REPRESENTATION 
------------------------------------------- 
 
8.  (C) Delly praised PM Maliki's May 16 Mosul speech in 
which he promised to stand by and support Iraq's minorities, 
but qualified his praise by saying that words needed to be 
followed by deeds.  Delly said that he had had no contact 
with PM Maliki's new Minorities Committee (reftel), observing 
that its members were competent individuals, who said the 
right things in private, but that he doubted they could work 
together for the benefit of Iraq's minorities, suggesting 
that the dynamics of the group would prove anti-Christian. 
 
SELF-ADMINISTRATION IN THE NORTH 
-------------------------------- 
 
9.  (C) Delly advocated self-administration for Christian 
villages in northern Iraq, stressing, however, that 
Christians do not want a "ghetto."  He remarked that Muslims 
and Yezidis comprised half the area's population, and he 
rejected the notion of an autonomous territorial enclave. 
Delly proposed however, that in places where the population 
is predominantly Christian, there should be some form of 
self-administration in local matters, through appointment of 
local officials, with oversight either by the federal 
government or governorate authorities.  (Note:  Delly 
mentioned Dohuk in the north, but also Karada in Baghdad as 
areas where there should be some form of local Christian 
representation.  End note.)  He argued there needed to be a 
central mechanism for these Christian representatives, which 
would then engage with the national government.  He then 
proposed that this grouping be allocated 3 percent of 
national oil revenues, commensurate with their numbers. 
Delly believes that KRG Finance Minister Sarkis Aghajan has 
the political acumen to implement this proposal, and further 
praised Sarkis for his attention to the needs of Christian 
communities. 
 
COALITION FORCES IN THE DOG HOUSE 
--------------------------------- 
 
10.  (C) Both Delly and Wardouni were intermittently critical 
 
BAGHDAD 00002175  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
of Coalition Forces, claiming they had at times damaged 
religious sites during searches and did not intervene when 
Church properties were vandalized and looted.  At the same 
time, he insisted CF should not take on the role of 
protecting Church properties, since this would brand the 
Christian minorities and CF as "crusaders."  Delly related he 
had had an unfortunate experience at a checkpoint, where he 
had been stood up against a wall, told to remove his cassock, 
and subjected to a search. (Note:  Cardinal Delly regularly 
complains about CF, but routinely declines to provide 
specifics which would allow MNF-I to follow up.  End note.) 
CROCKER

 



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