Iraqi Christians are pained by the tragic images coming from Italy. In Iraqi Kurdistan, the authorities too have ordered a lockdown, closed places of worship and forced people to stay at home. A "third generation" of war, a "biological" one, is underway. Protection is both spiritual and medical.
Erbil (AsiaNews) – From Italy to Iraq, the coronavirus crisis has become a global challenge to be fought with prayers and by following the instructions of public and health authorities. Fr Samir Youssef is a Chaldean priest in northern Iraq. For years, he has helped Christians, Muslims and Yazidi victims of the Islamic State. He has become a partner of AsiaNews in the campaign Adopt a Christian from Mosul. At present, he has dedicated his prayers (see video) to Italy, to the victims of the pandemic that increasingly looks like a war. He sees it as "third generation of wars,” a biological war that is “cold and hot, [. . .] like the flu,” between “light and darkness, between good and evil, in eternal battle.” Here his testimony (first part).
First of all, I hope you are all well. I call on the Lord our Saviour to intervene and save Italy, and the whole world, from this cursed virus.
Like in your country, everything is on hold here. A total curfew is in place. People are locked down at home; universities, churches, restaurants and shopping centres are closed; all collective activities have stopped. Only mini-markets, pharmacies and hospitals remain open.
Most products come from Turkey, some drugs are made locally but most come from Italy and Switzerland. We still fear future drug shortages. What unimaginable problems this invisible thing has created!
Here in Enishke, Iraqi Kurdistan, one can walk only near the church; the main roads are off-limits. At the beginning, the lockdown was supposed to last until 29 March, then the government extended it to 8 April. Now it will certainly go beyond that.
Iraq has hundreds of cases, but it is hard to get reliable numbers, also because the border with Iran, the COVID-19 hotspot in the Middle East, was not immediately closed.
When Italy was first struck by the virus, I felt deep sadness and closeness, not only me but everyone here in Kurdistan, Christians and others, mindful of the great help received in the past from your country.
We have heard many sad and touching stories. We heard about the doctors and nurses, the sacrifice they make by staying in hospitals for days; about those who didn’t go home to avoid infecting their loved ones. We heard the stories of those who died, the elderly who die in hospitals without the comfort of their children and relatives. We heard of seniors, but also young people, full of life, who died. We saw the row of coffins outside churches, and those carried away by the army.
We saw things in Italy, then France, the United States, Africa, Asia ... the whole world is facing a challenge. We either beat this cursed virus together, forever, or it will pop up again with a vengeance and terrorise us again.
Here, too, we are under a curfew. Still, young people went out, especially among the Kurds, until the Kurdish government deployed the Peshmerga to force people to stay home. We are all working together – clergy, doctors, politicians, police forces, experts and security forces – to stop this virus.
I think that a third generation of wars has begun, biological war. Government intervention is not necessary; three large technology companies that want to shape the fate of the world are enough to exploit this virus to their advantage.
In the future, this period will be analysed more closely . . . There is a mystery behind it all. Ostensibly, we are in a global war, but it is not a classic conflict.
I think that, like the Cold War, the conventional wars in Syria, Libya and Yemen will end to make way for another type of war, cold and hot at the same time, like the flu.
This war will be one of science and people of good will against science and people moved by self-interest, a war between light and dark, between good and evil, in eternal battle.
For this reason, we have two ways of protecting ourselves, a spiritual one and a medical one. The first requires prayers, reading the Gospel, entrusting oneself to the Lord and his mercy. The second consists in following the path of science and proper health guidelines.
*priest in the Diocese of Zaku and Amadiyah