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.”