Iraq: Chaldean Catholics demand role in new government

 The 19 Chaldean Catholic bishops of Iraq have issued a demand to US civil administrator Paul Bremer asking to be included and represented in the country's new government institutions. The bishops said Chaldeans are the third largest ethnic group in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds, and their people have made significant contributions to the country. They are one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, tracing their roots back to the time of the Apostles and speaking Aramaic - the language Jesus spoke. The bishops said: "Unfairly, the temporary government council was formed without any Chaldean presence, and the structure and members of the new government have been announced without any participation of Chaldeans. "That is an injustice committed against our people, for which we protest explicitly and insistently." The bishop said the Chaldean role in Iraqi society had been prominent until modern times. The Chaldean Patriarch was a member of the Iraqi Senate during the Iraqi Republic before Saddam Hussein came to power. At present, just one member of Iraq's governing council is a Christian, and this person is a member of the Assyrian Church, while around 80% of Christians in the country are Chaldean. The bishops said they want an equal representation of Chaldeans in the new State institutions, including on the commission drafting a new constitution. They express concern that the absence of Chaldeans from decision processes would give power to the Muslims, pushing Iraq in the direction of becoming a radical Islamic state.

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