Stop badging us by our religion, Chaldean patriarch tells Iraqi government

The Iraqi government should end the practice of including citizens' religion on their identity cards, according to the Patriarch of the Chaldean Church in Iraq, Louis Raphael Sako.

In a speech at a conference on citizenship in Paris yesterday reported by Kurdistan 24, Sako said there were still deep divisions in the country even after the defeat of Islamic State or Da'esh declared in December last year.

Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako (l) with representatives of other Iraqi religious groups during a conference in Paris, April 12, 2018.Chaldean Patriarchate of Babylon/Kurdistan24

He said: 'Nine months after the end of the battle of Mosul and the defeat of Da'esh in Iraq, our country is plagued by a paradox.

'There is a great aspiration among Iraqis to no longer live out of step with modernity and finally turn the page on war and division. Most people want to move on from sectarianism because it is at odds with the notions of citizenship and human rights.'

However, he said: 'Iraqi society still seems to be marked by deep divisions of tribal, ethnic, religious or cultural origin.'

He urged the separation of religion from politics under a common citizenship, saying: 'Citizenship is the only solution for the future of Iraq. Citizenship must be for everyone; all must be integrated. It is under its tent that everyone will be protected, regardless of their ethnic and religious affiliation.

"The notion of citizenship helps put an end to discrimination and exclusion, as is the case in the democratic West. Citizenship means that there is no longer a religious or ethnic majority or even the notion of minority groups. Citizenship allows everyone to be protected because everyone is subject to the same laws.'

Sako said minorities including Christians – hundreds of thousands of whom had fled the country – were marginalised in Iraq. 'Yet, in today's textbooks, there are no mentions of our history and our religion and all that we have given to our Muslim brothers and offered to our country,' he said.