Gudrun Harrer in conversation with Louis Raphael Sako
THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY IN IRAQ
Since 2013 Cardinal Raphael Sako is the head of the Chaldean Church in Iraq, one of the oldest religious communities of the country. The Christians in Iraq suffered immensily during the political upheavals of the last decades, according to estimates their number decreased from more than one million in the beginning of the 1990s to 150.000 today. Especially in the Niniveh plans, their historic homeland, in 2014 they fell victim to the advance of the “Islamic State”. Their return is difficult and slow. Furthermore the Chaldean community is threatened by an internal split: The so called “Babylon Brigades”, affiliated with pro-Iranian Shiite militias, are politically supported in Baghdad to attack the leadership of Patriarch Sako.
Louis Raphael I Cardinal Sako is the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, the Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church. He was previously Archbishop of Kirkuk.
Gudrun Harrer, Senior Editor, Der Standard; Lecturer in Modern History and Politics of the Middle East at the University of Vienna and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna