Rayan Al-Kildani is a Christian lawmaker & leader of the paramilitary group the Babylon Brigades. He has been sanctioned by the US for alleged human rights abuses, including cutting off of a detainee’s ear.
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In his livestreamed speech, the Catholic leader called for an ‘honest discussion about the primordial cycle of hatred, supremacy, and violence that has plagued humanity since before the dawn of history.’
The Baghdad complex, named after the Virgin Mary, is built on state-owned property, which will be evacuated by the end of this year according to an order from government agencies.
The speakers highlighted developments such as the growth of the Catholic University in Erbil in the Kurdistan Region, northern Iraq, while cautioning that the Christian community required ongoing international support.
Al-Kadhimi was unharmed in the attack on Nov. 7, but six of his guards were wounded when his residence was targeted by three armed drones.
The roughly 30-minute private meeting included conversation about the papal visit to Iraq in March.
Franciscan Father Dave Pivonka went on the papal journey to Iraq at the invitation of Erbil Archbishop Bashar Warda.
While they are joyful and grateful for the visit, they also stress the importance of building on the pilgrimage’s momentum in order to secure lasting improvement.
An offering of friendship and welcome