Maliki tells EU stop encouraging Christians

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki urged the European Union (EU) to stop encouraging the emigration of Iraqi Christians from the country, a local news website reported Friday. 

“I urge the EU countries to refrain from encouraging Iraqi Christians to emigrate…we lived side by side in harmony and enjoyed good relations without any conflicts,” Al-Sumaria News quoted Maliki as saying during the inauguration ceremony of the Lady of Salvation Church in al-Karada district in central Baghdad. 

The Lady of Salvation church finally opened on Friday after it being restored. On October 31, 2010, around 58 worshipers were killed and more than 100 injured after a bomb blast against the church later claimed by al-Qaeda-linked group, the Islamic State of Iraq. 

“I have asked Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican to issue a statement urging Christians to remain in Iraq, so the East will not be emptied from Christians just as the West is not emptied from Muslims.” 

According to Maliki, the Vatican has already responded “positively” to his request by encouraging Iraqi Christians to stay in their native homeland. Iraqi Christians were targeted by extremist groups since the U.S. invasion on Iraq in 2003. 

On March 2008, the Catholic Chaldean bishop Boulos Faraj Raho was kidnapped and killed. 

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