share

 Home | Government | WikiLeaks Information

WikiLeaks: 2009-06-12: 09BAGHDAD1539: Ambassador Meets with Christian Religious Leaders

by WikiLeaks. 09BAGHDAD1539: June 12, 2009.

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 08:07 PM UT


Viewing cable 09BAGHDAD1539, AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs
Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09BAGHDAD1539 2009-06-12 15:59 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXYZ0036
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #1539/01 1631559
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121559Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3443
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS BAGHDAD 001539 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: IZ KIRF PGOV PREL SOCI
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS 
 
REF: A. BAGHDAD 1426 
     B. BAGHDAD 235 
 
------ 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (SBU) In their first meeting with Ambassador Hill, 
Christian religious leaders emphasized that continued 
emigration of Iraqi Christians abroad remains their primary 
concern.  They stressed that, although security remains 
worrisome, the motivation behind current departures was 
economic, coupled with the allure of living in Europe.  The 
leaders requested U.S. support in helping to create job 
opportunities for Christians in Iraq and assisting in the 
reconstruction of schools and hospitals within their 
communities.  The leaders noted that they are receiving 
adequate financial support from the government for their 
churches, as well as "moral support" from their Iraqi Muslim 
counterparts, including Grand Ayatollah Sistani.  Ambassador 
Hill told the leaders that he too would defend Iraqi 
Christians publicly and encourage Iraqis to as well.  End 
summary. 
 
----------------------------- 
Emigration is the Key Concern 
----------------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) On June 9, Ambassador Hill hosted a lunch for 
representatives of each of Iraq's largest Christian 
denominations, including the Patriarch Mar Addai II of the 
Assyrian Church, Bishop Shlaimon Wardouni of the Chaldean 
Church, Archbishop Jean Sleiman of the Roman Catholic Church, 
Father Pere Thaer of the Syriac Church, and Pastor Maher 
Fouad Daoud of the Evangelical Church.  (Note: The head of 
the Armenian Church, Archbishop Avak Asadourian, was also 
invited, but was traveling outside the country.  End note.) 
The five leaders agreed that the emigration of Iraqi 
Christians remains their primary concern.  Archbishop Sleiman 
characterized the flow of Iraqi Christians abroad as an 
"exodus."  Bishop Wardouni stated that what had happened 
since 2003 was the worst emigration in over 100 years. 
Pastor Daoud complained that approximately 85% of his 
congregation had gone abroad in the past year. 
 
3. (SBU) In their discussions of emigration, the Christian 
leaders agreed that security was only one concern and that it 
had improved markedly.  Bishop Wardouni noted that the Church 
of St. Peter/St. Paul had been restored in the Doura 
neighborhood of Baghdad and was drawing more than 150 
parishioners for Sunday Mass.  Wardouni told the Ambassador 
that during the past Sunday's Mass he had performed three 
baptisms and 15 First Communions.  Although he did not fail 
to mention the issue of security, Wardouni said that the lack 
of jobs in Iraq, not persecution, was driving Christians to 
leave.  He complained that Christians could not get 
government jobs because the hiring at various ministries was 
conducted in a sectarian fashion.  Patriarch Addai and Father 
Thaer described the problem more broadly, saying that 
Christians lacked not only economic opportunities, but also 
adequate schools and health facilities.  Father Thaer also 
emphasized that Iraqi Christians were generally well 
educated, but had been forced to take jobs for which they 
were over-qualified.  (Note: The lack of economic 
opportunities for Christians and the impact this has on 
emigration was one that religious leaders living in the 
Kurdistan region also raised with Poloff in the past month 
(REF A).  Poloff noted during these conversations the 
millions of dollars in U.S. government spending to assist 
these minority communities in the areas of education, 
infrastructure, and micro-loans.  End note.) 
 
4. (SBU) The Iraqi Christian leaders were equally critical of 
liberal Western immigration policies, arguing that the 
resettlement of Iraqi Christians to Europe and the United 
Qresettlement of Iraqi Christians to Europe and the United 
States only encouraged more people to leave Iraq in search of 
better opportunities abroad.  Patriarch Addai told the 
Ambassador that he had had a meeting with the German Foreign 
Minister in which the FM had proposed to help 10,000 Iraqi 
Christians move to Germany.  The Patriarch said he had told 
the FM not to follow through with the plan, as it would 
encourage yet more emigration.  Bishop Wardouni was equally 
adamant that European countries were only encouraging Iraqi 
Christians to look abroad rather than focus on how to improve 
the situation in Iraq.  All five religious leaders emphasized 
that, rather than focus on resettlement, Western countries 
should focus on helping to rebuild churches, schools, and 
hospitals as well as create job opportunities for Christians. 
 
 
--------------------------------- 
Support from the GOI and Sistani? 
--------------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) When the Ambassador inquired about how the 
Government of Iraq was responding to their concerns, 
Patriarch Addai was surprisingly laudatory.  He said that the 
Assyrian Church does not have any problem with the government 
and that the resources provided to the Christian endowment at 
the Ministry of Awqaf were sufficient.  Bishop Wardouni 
praised Prime Minister Maliki's efforts to protect the 
Christian community in Mosul last October, saying that his 
actions had allowed the Christians displaced by the violence 
to return to their homes.  He was also happy that the 
Christian endowment had been able to provide guards for Babil 
College, the lone Christian seminary in Baghdad, and the 
"heart" of the city's Christian community.  Only Pastor Daoud 
of the Evangelical Church dissented from the praise for the 
GOI, arguing that the Christian endowment of the Ministry of 
Awqaf had placed impossible conditions on his church to be 
officially recognized and be able to receive government 
support.  Specifically, he said that in order to be 
recognized, the Evangelical Church had to receive the 
agreement of all of the officially recognized Christian 
churches in Iraq, something that was not forthcoming. 
Daoud's comments led to an argument over what the 
e6rnQ%=91 micro-loans, and church restoration. 
HILL

 



Government ForumGovernment Forum

WikiLeaks InformationWikiLeaks Information


Do you have any related information or suggestions? Please email them.

AIM | Atour: The State of Assyria | Terms of Service