US air strikes have been important to hold back ISIS, according to Iraqi Patriarch Louis Sako, but “we need a long-term strategy to destroy the sick ideology that drives the action of the violent.”
ISIS is “a danger to the whole world,” said Sako in an interview with the Italian journal Oasis, “not just for the Middle East.” In fact, he said, “maybe even more for the West, which does not know the Islamic language and mode of action. ISIS kills everything that it thinks is out of line with its idea of Islam,” he said.
“Everyone is talking about democracy, reform, and change,” the Patriarch said. “But first of all we need a new education, to pull out the jihadist mentality from the roots. Only if Muslim families offer a new education to the future generations can there be a future for Christians here.”
“This is the only way for a safe future for you in the West,” said Sako. “Perhaps it is here that the jihadists are most dangerous. Their goal is radical Islamization, and you in the West don’t know them; you don’t know what they mean when they speak.”
According to the bishop, US air raids have had a downside as well. “They aggravate the situation in the country because they destroy homes and infrastructure, killing innocent civilians,” he said.
Sako is especially concerned now for the plight of the 120,000 Iraqi refugees that are currently without a home.
“Some say that this war will last three years, some say ten,” he says.
“The fact is that now winter is coming and you need to help your kids to go to school, to support the families of refugees who have no homes or heating.”
These people “are paying the price of a violence without justification, done supposedly in the name of God, but really for economic interests,” he said.
A few days ago, the Vatican announced that, on Pope Francis’s request, the upcoming meeting of cardinals on October 20 will be dedicated to the Middle East. The announcement came after it was confirmed that Father Hanna Jallouf was abducted by people associated with the Jahbat Al-Nusra Jihadist group.
The meeting is a great opportunity for us, Bishop Sako said, “a sign of the Church’s sense of responsibility to aid those who suffer.”