Nassiriya (Agenzia Fides) - The attack, in which more than 30 people died and around ninety were injured in Baghdad last Thursday, and to which the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, sparked outrage among the Iraqi population, who accuse the government of being passive and "weak" and are accused of failing to severely punish IS fighters detained in Iraqi prisons.
In this context, on Monday 25 January, the death sentence was carried out in the prison in Nassiriya against three IS fighters who had been convicted of terrorism. Meanwhile, a demonstration in Nassiriya was called via social media on Tuesday, January 26th, to demand that the government "kill all jihadists imprisoned" in revenge for the latest ISIS attack. In the same hours, rumors are circulating in the media that Iraqi President Bahram Salih is said to have already signed 340 execution orders. Of the prisoners sentenced to death in Iraq, most are IS fighters, but there are also common criminals among them.
The possible numerous executions could lead to a worrying escalation in view of the difficult historical phase that Mesopotamia is going through. Most of the execution judgments against jihadists and terrorists sentenced to death were signed under President Fuad Massum in 2014 when ISIS occupied a third of the country.
The Iraqi government announced the victory over IS at the end of 2017, but the massacre carried out last Thursday by two suicide bombers in a second-hand clothing market in the middle of Baghdad made it clear that the strategy of the jihadist networks is aimed at combating such terrorist attacks.
A 2005 Iraqi law provides for the death penalty for anyone convicted of "terrorism". Kurdish Barham Salih, who has been president since 2018, has expressed his personal opposition to the death penalty in the past. However, more than 30 death sentences were carried out in Iraq in 2020.
With all this, the local Christian communities live in anticipation of the announced apostolic visit of Pope Francis to Iraq, which is planned for March 5-8. During these days and until Wednesday, January 27th, the Chaldean Christians will take part in the so-called "Nineveh Fast", three days of fasting and shared prayer to commemorate the conversion of Nineveh following the preaching of the Prophet Jonah.
This year, Chaldean patriarch Louis Raphael Sako invited everyone to pray and fast "to overcome the Coronavirus epidemic" and "also for the success of Pope Francis' visit in March". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 26/1/2021)