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Corruption is ‘more dangerous than Islamic State’ in Iraq

04 October 2019

The Chaplain of St George’s, Baghdad, speaks on UK visit


The Revd Faez Jirjees outside St George’s, Baghdad

The Revd Faez Jirjees outside St George’s, Baghdad

THE corruption in Iraq is more dangerous than the fight against Islamic State (IS), the chaplain of St George’s, Baghdad, the Revd Faez Jirjees, has said.

On a visit to the UK last week, Mr Jirjees said: “ISIS could be easier to fight than the corrup­tion. There is an internal sickness. It’s even more dangerous than ISIS: it’s destroying the econ­omy, and the economy is the right of the Iraqi citi­zen.”

Mr Jirjees’s visit was supported by the charity FRRME, which supports St George’s. He is thought to be the first Iraqi to be or­­dained in the Anglican Church.

An Anglican primary school was opened in the grounds of St George’s last year (News, 12 October 2018). The compound also contains a nur­sery, a clinic, and a cultural centre, which Mr Jirjees oversees. His regu­lar congregation num­bered about 300, including mem­bers of various de­­nom­ina­tions, he said.

“I think things got worse and worse after 2003. Since 2003 until today, the governments have not been the decision-makers: there are other countries which have had ex­­ternal influence on Iraq.

“We have seen that Christians have lost ever since 2003. Emigra­tion has doubled, and, as a result, the churches lost a lot of their congrega­tion” (News, 24 May).

He continued: “The Christian situa­­tion in Iraq doesn’t improve. It started getting worse 14 centuries ago. Christians don’t have their rights maintained by the Iraqi con­stitution, as it is based on sharia law.

“That does not serve Christians and other minorities living here. The government neglects Christians, and it leaves us to feel like we are second- or third-class citizens. And this is despite the fact that Iraq used to be a Christian country.”

Mr Jirjees said that he worked on reconciliation in the country, and met politicians regularly to represent the cause of the Christian minority “We have to make a separation be­­tween religion and government: we need a secular government. The Gov­­­ern­­ment should start giving services to citizens and creating equality. . .

“This way, we can have hope and our trust back. But, for now, the government is controlled by religion parties. . . We have been moving from bad to worse because of this.

“There are people who could lead an uncorrupt, secular state, but they are under pressure from the Islamic parties.”

Mr Jirjees said that he went about his work knowing that there were people who wanted him dead.
“Any­one who might not like my speech could get rid of me very easily. When I work and help, I think about what we could achieve. If we live our lives based on fear, we would be silent.”


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