The executive order signed by US President Donald Trump banning people from seven Muslim majority countries, including Iraq, could be an opportunity for the Islamic world to rethink and renew itself, this according to Fr Samir Youssef, a parish priest in the diocese of Amadiya (Iraqi Kurdistan).
Speaking to AsiaNews about Christian suffering, he noted
that “Our faithful were driven out of their homes," saw "their churches
destroyed," had "more than 2,000 victims since 2003", whilst the Muslim
world "did nothing" to stem this violence. By contrast, "the local
Catholic Church, from the top to the last representative in the
community, has always loved and always tried to help everyone, without
Fr Samir is a pastor in the diocese of Zakho and Amadiya (Kurdistan).
He is responsible for 3,500 displaced Christian, Muslim, and Yazidi
families who fled their homes and land in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain to
The clergyman has been directly involved since the summer of 2014 when the emergency began. He, Iraqi bishops, and AsiaNews have recently revived the ‘Adopt a Christian from Mosul’ campaign’ to help refugees and their children with fuel, shoes, winter clothes, and school.
Chaldean Patriarch Mar Raphael Louis Sako took a swipe at new US
administration’s decision, calling it a “trap”, when what is essential
is to bring back peace and coexistence to the region.
In view of this, the primate of the Iraqi Church celebrated the
recent return to Teleskuf of the first Chaldean family. For his
Beatitude, this is an historic event because it marks the return of
Christians to one of the many towns in the Nineveh plain that fell into
the hands of the Islamic State (IS) in the summer of 2014.
"With respect to Trump’s veto, I can confirm that it hit families I
know, Iraqi Christians and Muslims, who were about to leave and now are
stuck," Fr Samir said.
The problem also affects " Syrian Christians families, caught at the
airport" about to get on a plane. Now everyone has to reply and be
screened again and get a new approval, with further delay.
The White House’s decision is a major topic on Iraqi media because
"there are many Americans who, every day, set foot in Iraq and are
always welcome," the clergyman noted.
In addition, “the families of top military and generals" who are
fighting alongside US military against Daesh (Arabic acronym for the
Islamic State), “were moved to America for security reasons."
The executive order has already had a first, absurd consequence. "The
head of Iraq’s anti-terrorist forces was about to leave for the United
States, to visit his family. He knew nothing of the new decree and was
His son appeared on Iraqi TV and speaking to his father said, "We see
you every day on TV, fighting the Islamic state and terrorism, and then
they stop you, don’t allow you to come to us because they consider you a
For Fr Samir, this is a truly paradoxical situation in which many
Muslims regard the US and Europe "as a land of infidels, criticise the
use of alcohol and the presence of bars," and then complain about this
announcement, yet "want a life like that in Europe and the US."
By contrast, "many times Saudi Arabia has closed the door to Muslims
and to all Christians. In this case, no one wept or complained because
Riyadh closed its doors. Instead, when America adopts the same measure,
tears and protests begin, almost as if the gates of heaven had been
If people in Iraq and Muslims like so much "life in the United States
and the West" why is it that they do not pass laws "guaranteeing" a
similar type of freedom and democracy.
If they did, Arab families could enjoy "freedom, work, security and coexistence" in their own land rather than elsewhere.