Monday, 6 January 2014

Patriarch Cheikho and Ba'athist-Iraq

In the early 1980s, in Iraq, a book was introduced in all schools (regardless of religious affiliation) to teach the Qu'ran. This book had certain deceitful prejudices against the Christian faith.

It is rumoured that the Chaldean Patriarch at the time - Paul II Cheikho, requested a meeting with the deputy Prime Minister at the time, a Chaldean Catholic - Tariq Aziz. To ask that the teaching of this particular book to not be used for Christian students.

Apparently Tariq Aziz was quite rude to the former Patriarch. Mr Aziz told the Patriarch that the book must be taught regardless of religious belief. The Patriarch then apparently beat Aziz's head, with his Episcopal-Shepards stick.

The Patriarch then requested a meeting with the president at the time Saddam Hussien. Who ordered that the book should not only not be taught to Christian students, but Muslim students as well.

Whether this story is true or not, I think it shows something. That the people at least believed that their Patriarch had courage, and if they believed he had courage, I have no reason to think that he did not. I think this type of zeal may be missing with our current leadership. But we hope that it will return.

Through the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you all.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know the story about that particular schoolbook, but of course Ba'athi efforts at "Arabization" didn't go over too well with the non-Arab minorities. From the 1830s, the seat of the Patriarchate was in Mosul but was moved in 1958, I believe after the revolution and the assassination of the boy king Ghazi II. That, IIRC, is when the Arabization campaign began in earnest, and of course it got progressively worse. FWIW, Tariq Aziz (real name Mikail Youhanan) did what he could to temper the effects. Mar Pawlos was on the throne during the height of the Arabization campaing, and from all accounts he did clash gently but firmly with the authorities. No doubt Mar Yawsip Audo would have been proud.