The presentation of H.B Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako in the International Seminar of Human Rights and Religious Freedom Baghdad, December 18th-19th, 2016

The Conference was attended by some ministers, deputies, ambassadors, and heads of political parties, clergy, intellectuals and civil activists.
Here is the speech of H.B Sako.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to thank the organizers of this conference ( The Center of Research on the Southern System and the wider Mediterranean and the Catholic University of the S. Heart, Milan, for choosing such a vital and urgent topic which highlights the role of religious diversity in promoting social consistency; triggers interfaith dialogue, convergence, solidarity and understanding in order to achieve peace, social justice, freedom and to retain humankind dignity.
Let me start with two important points that summarizes the message of all religions in terms of freedom and human rights:
1. Working hard to make sure that citizenship values and human rights is the priority from now on.
2. Helping the poor and sheltering the displaced to ease the consequences of wars and conflicts.
In order to accomplish this mission, we need to realize the urgent need to a “healthy” society built on humanitarian and moral principles by adopting a culture of accepting others and reconsidering the current curriculum in schools.
We, as Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sabians and Yazidis etc. are brothers, in front of God, and we share common values that should be activated.
As we all know, humanity is our inclusive identity and brotherhood is the foundation of our values. It is the responsibility that we share mutually. Brotherhood does not mean getting rid of diversity and differences, but rather respecting each other, as a necessity for living together.
Since we are all human, regardless of our social, religious, national or geographic differences. We believe that sharing this human nature and dignity will certainly create unity among citizens as well as equality in rights and duties.
Therefore, diversity is richness and differences should not turn into a disagreement, fear and conflict, which will never lead to peace. In addition, conflict is incompatible with all religious principles toward building good relationships with humankind.
Religions call for sincere dialogue and listening respectfully to others’ perspectives. Dialogue is the only way for understanding and solving problems in order to work in harmony and get our rights. A society of joy and peace can be built by discussing issues with a mature, open and civilized mentality that appreciates and promotes co-existence, communication, revival, and integration. In fact, this is the only way to Glorify God and be in peace on earth.
Accordingly, our focus should be on the following facts and steps:
1. We have to promote interfaith dialogue in order to create tolerance and acceptance of each other and move away from the extremist ideology, imported via ISIS culture that urges hatred, violence and murder. In this regard, Pope Francis said in welcoming religious representatives, on Wednesday 11/04/2016,: "It is vulgarity to justify violence in the name of religion". So, we need to engage in a process of self-criticism by sound cultural and educational institutions, to know all the reasons behind what happened and is happening. Perhaps moderate Islam needs, in such circumstances, an uprising to save Islam.
2. Every religion has educational “fixed” doctrines as well as other “time and place related” scriptural verses, which require sustainable updated interpretation; otherwise, we will mislead our believers and lose them. In other word, religion doesn’t mean, repeating these verses as written in Holy Books, but rather to understand the actual meaning of the message contained in these verses, and to present them for our people in an appropriate scientific clarification that can be applied in real life, unlike the traditional style. Incidentally, Saint Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3/6: "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life". Also, religious speeches must defend human rights strongly and stick to its brave prophetic role in guiding people to spiritual and humanitarian values that equip them with confidence and hope.
3. We have to learn about the religion of others from their sources and specialists, and not through popular rumors and uninformed ideas. We must stand against any abuse of other religions’ sanctities, whatever is its source. However, the religious privacy should be taken into account by ensuring the right of its believers to express it freely and preserving their sanctities.
4. To get rid of extremism and terrorism, we have to educate our children with sound education, on humanitarian, social and religious basis. Hence, dialogue won’t be correct unless we respect the feelings, and holy symbols of others. We need to promote a culture of maturity and responsibility. We need a curriculum that respects pluralism and diversity; a curriculum that accepts the other and recognizes him no matter what his religion, sex or race is; a curriculum that rejects extremism, exclusion and violence. The time has come to issue a statement prohibiting the shed of innocent people blood, whoever they are. Overall, religion calls for mutual respect, friendship, good consideration, solidarity, defense of human dignity, the common good, rather than putting barriers and mines.
5. The Christian component is an essential and important part of Iraqi fabric. Yet, has suffered a lot from Isis, religious extremism and governmental legislation. They need to be embraced after the most recent tragedy, especially by their Muslim brothers, Shiites, Sunnis, and to safeguard their rights and ensure their protection, instead of marginalizing them. At the moment, Christians are not expecting to hear speeches, but to restore confidence in their neighbors; to keep them on their land instead of pushing them to emigrate. Helping Christians to stay on their homeland will endorse public interest, due to their unique competence, dedication, integrity, and openness. They will definitely, contribute to the revival, progress and prosperity of the country.
As a Church, we are ready to keep devoting ourselves fully and without reservation to serve all Iraqis without any discrimination. To support the process of reconciliation and the promoting co-existence, peace and stability.
We trust that, with dialogue, we can work and live together in peace, hope and joy.




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