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Iraq: Kidnapping Of Christian Leader Denounced

Top UN envoy in Iraq denounces kidnapping of Christian leader

1 March 2008 - The senior United Nations official in Iraq has condemned yesterday's kidnapping of a Catholic Chaldean archbishop in an attack in the northern city of Mosul that led to the killing of the religious leader's driver and two of his bodyguards.

Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, "denounces the continuous kidnapping, killing, and the targeting of religious minorities," according to a statement released by his office in Baghdad today.

"It is appalling that these attacks on communities that have lived peacefully together in north Iraq for centuries are continuing," he said, following the kidnapping of Monsignor Paul Faraj Rahhu, Archbishop of Mosul.

Mr. de Mistura called on the Iraqi Government to step up its efforts to protect the country's minorities and its diversity - which is enshrined in the national constitution - and to preserve human rights.

He also urged local authorities to play their part in protecting the rights of minorities and their religious identity, noting that the Archbishop of Mosul was only the latest in a long line of members of the Christian and other minority communities in Iraq to be killed, abducted or displaced from their homes.

ENDS

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