Archbishop: BBC series forgets Iraq’s Christians (From the Times on Monday 24th August 2020)

Archbishop: BBC series forgets Iraq’s Christians (From the Times on Monday 24th August 2020)
From the Times on Monday 24th August 2020

An archbishop has accused the BBC of ignoring persecuted minorities such as Christians and Yazidis in its acclaimed documentary Once Upon a Time in Iraq.

Iraqis oppressed because of their faith had been “airbrushed” out of the BBC’s history series, Bashar Warda, the Chaldean archbishop of Arbil, claimed.

He said Christians and others felt wounded and pained to be deprived of their voice and that the corporation had failed in its duty of impartiality.

The last in the five-part series was repeated on BBC Two on 24th Aug 2020.

Once Upon a Time in Iraq, which looks at the legacy of the war against Saddam Hussein and the rise of Islamic State, has received praise

internationally and across the political spectrum.

The programmes give voice to those who lived through the turmoil including civilians and soldiers.

Iraq’s Christian community has dwindled by 90 per cent in a generation to an official 250,000 although experts believe it could be half that number.

Archbishop Warda, seen as the most senior Catholic in Iraq, wrote to the BBC that there was little or no reference to the plight of religious minorities. “How can this be? Had we not suffered the war and its aftermath just like our Muslim brothers and sisters? Do you understand the persecution we have suffered in our homeland? And that Christians have existed in this land for 2,000 years, the Mandaeans and Yazidis for even longer?

“Does the persecution, murder and rape within our minority communities not count? Are our experiences of the 2003 invasion . . . irrelevant? Minority communities have felt and continue to feel voiceless in our persecution and suffering in Iraq; to be then airbrushed out of a . . . major BBC documentary is wounding and damaging.”

He asked for omissions to be “rectified so far as it is possible”.