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Iraq is Beating the Terrorists, Says Bishop

Amadiyah (AsiaNews) -- Terrorism in Iraq is losing steam as terrorists are arrested and neutralised. People are taking heart and their morale is getting better as Iraqi police and army are getting more successful in their fight against terrorist groups, this according to Mgr Rabban Al-Qas, Bishop of Amadiyah (Iraqi Kurdistan), who spoke to AsiaNews.

Despite improvements, the country is still experiencing violent acts on a daily basis--a suicide bomber yesterday blew himself up in a police station killing 15 officers in the city of Tikrit.

But Bishop Rabban noted that the "police and the army now have the means they need to do their work. Every day we see 40-50 people arrested for terrorism or for collaborating with terrorists. [For instance,] a terrorist ringleader in Mosul was arrested along with other terrorists."

According to him, the Iraqi population is currently feeling better. "Before the residents of Mosul and Baghdad were terrified; now things are improving. People watch television and see terrorists being handcuffed and go to prison; they are beginning to trust the government for its fight against terrorism".

Among those taken into custody, "many are foreigners: Sudanese, Pakistanis, Syrians and Jordanians", Bishop Rabban explained. "All terrorists who came into the country are funded by Syria".

The Bishop is optimistic about Iraq's political situation. "I am certain that the Sunnis will take part in drafting the new constitution," he noted. "Keep in mind that Iraq is not Iran. Here we do not make any distinction on the basis of religion. We are all Iraqis and act politically accordingly".

According to him, things are also improving for Christians as well. For example, "in Kurdistan Christians came in second and they are respected. Unfortunately, the Christian vote splintered because of too parties fielding candidates running for office."

Bishop Rabban is himself personally involved in Iraq's renaissance. He is responsible for a new multiethnic and multi-faith school in Amadiyah.

"There are Christian and Muslim pupils studying in Aramaic and French. This is the first time in the history of Iraq that Muslim pupils are studying in the language of Christ," he said.

"We started with 77 pupils and about 40 teachers and support staff," he explained. "And the school is absolutely free because we want to give poor kids a chance to learn and train."

The high school, which is owned by the local diocese, opened a few weeks ago thanks to the financial assistance of the Principality of Monaco, the Oeuvres Orientales and various national Caritas.

Asked whether he was optimistic about the future, Bishop Rabban answered an emphatic "Yes! I am certain that Iraqis are not in favour of terrorism. For a long time I said that the terrorists who were killing civilians and beheading hostages were not Iraqis, but foreigners. Now we have the evidence of that".

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