US Expresses Concern over "Political Harassment" of Chaldean Catholic Patriarch in Iraq

US Expresses Concern over "Political Harassment" of Chaldean Catholic Patriarch in Iraq

Shafaq News/ The United States has voiced concerns regarding the alleged "political harassment" faced by Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch in Iraq. US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller denounced the mistreatment of Cardinal Sako, expressing regret over his departure from the capital.

"We are in continuous contact with Iraqi leaders on this matter. We are concerned that the cardinal's position as a respected leader of the church is under attack from various quarters, particularly from a militia leader who is sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act," Miller stated.

When asked about the impact of President Rashid's decision on religious freedom in Iraq, Miller responded, "Certainly, it is a blow to religious freedom, and that's why we are deeply concerned and have engaged directly with the Iraqi Government to convey our concerns."

Miller hoped Baghdad would reverse its decision, allowing the cardinal to return safely.

Cardinal Sako announced on Saturday his decision to leave the patriarchal residence in Baghdad and seek refuge in a monastery in the Kurdistan Region. The dispute between Sako and Rayan al-Kildani, the leader of a Christian movement affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Forces, has escalated recently.

The withdrawal of the Republican Decree by President Abd al-Latif Jamal Rashid, which had granted authority to Patriarch Sako, and the subsequent order summoning him to appear before the judiciary, has sparked anger among Iraqi Christians. As a result, Sako was compelled to transfer his religious authorities to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region.

During a recent meeting with the Chargé d'Affairs of the Vatican Embassy in Iraq, President Rashid clarified the decision to withdraw the decree, citing the lack of a constitutional or legal basis for its issuance.

The situation surrounding Cardinal Sako and the withdrawal of the decree have generated controversy within Iraqi circles, highlighting the challenges faced by religious leaders and the wider Christian community in the country.

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