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Iraqi Archbishop: The Islamic State is a cancer that needs to be stopped

2015-07-19

It was just over one year ago...On June 10th, the Islamic State took over the Iraqi city of Mosul, the second largest in the country. 

Locals were given three options: covert to Islam, pay a fine for being Christian or thirdly-death. In a matter of hours, thousands decided to flee from their homes, refusing to convert or to pay a 250 dollar fine for being part of a religious minority. 

Many took refuge in Kurdistan, an autonomous region of Iraq, where residents live in relative peace. Archbishop Bashar Warda is from Erbil, which is the capital. He witnessed Christians come in day in and day out, looking for refuge. He saw their tears and heard stories of the violent atrocities they endured. 

ARCH. BASHAR WARDA
Archbishop of Erbil (Kurdistan)
"To be honest, I feel tired. I've seen so many people in such situation and the increase of demands that's occurring every day. People are knocking on the doors of the church of my diocese, looking for help and shelter, education, operations... different needs.” 

Even though one year has passed, the situation is far from over. The Archbishop says Muslim leaders need to publicly condemn the attacks and the actions of the Islamic State. 

ARCH. BASHAR WARDA
Archbishop of Erbil (Kurdistan)
"Unless the statements of Muslim leaders, revolve around the victims, there is no possibility that Muslims will know what's going on. What is happening is not about harm to the reputation of Islam. It is that they are destroying the lives of many innocent people.”

The Islamic State controls roughly 40 percent of Iraq's territory and about half of Syria. The Archbishop describes the terrorists as a cancer that needs to be stopped. 

ARCH. BASHAR WARDA
Archbishop of Erbil (Kurdistan)
"I do believe Daesh is like a cancer. The first act you really take against cancer is to stop and terminate this disease. Because there is no other way. There is no way of negotiating or reaching any solution.”

Along with military action, he believes part of the solution lies in the reconciliation of Iraqis-from  majority to minority groups. He also thinks the international community needs to respond with political and humanitarian action

He adds that refugees and religious minorities don't want to leave Iraq. Rather, they just want to go back home. But he says that is becoming increasingly difficult as days go by...



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