Christian in Iraqi Government Says There Will Be Religious Freedom

Younadem Kanna Appeals for a Force Under U.N. Mandate

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BAGHDAD, JULY 24, 2003 ( The only Christian in Iraq’s Provisional Government Council said that there will be no religious discrimination in the new Iraq.

An Assyrian-Chaldean Christian, militant of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, Younadem Kanna explained that, among other things, his mission in the Council is to see that the rights of Christians in general are guaranteed, although he admits that the attributions of each member are still not clear.

«Under the former regime, we were second class citizens. The time of discrimination has ended. Today, in Iraq, every citizen is free, regardless of his religious or ethnic» background, Kanna said to the French newspaper La Croix.

«We will benefit from the same legal rights enjoyed by the two main ethnic groups, the Arabs and Kurds. So the Assyrian-Chaldeans will be recognized with the same title, as a nation.»

«As the future Constitution will guarantee religious and cultural rights, we are going to militate for the de-nationalization of confessional schools so that our children can go back to their roots and, above all, to their maternal language,» he promised.

The Constitution, Kanna added, «will establish the separation between State and the religious factor. When Iraq is a secular State, there will be no problems with our Muslim brethren,» he added.

«The mission is arduous. The people criticize us. They still have not realized the risks we have taken. I can assure you that I took less risks at the time when I was condemned to death by Saddam Hussein, and had to flee to the mountains in the north of the country,» he concluded.

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