The morning of his death, after meeting with some young men for breakfast and renewing his ID, he visited his father and mother, bringing with him a recent photograph of himself, which he gave them.
In an interview recorded in Fr. Basa’s book, Fr. Ganni's father recalled him saying to his mother that the photograph “is for my funeral, so it is not a worry to you.”
His mother remembered that he said to her, "Mamma, if I die now or I die in 10 years, there is always a death. If they cut my throat with a knife, at the beginning it will hurt badly, but then I will feel nothing more."
She said to him, "So they have threatened you!" and he answered: "I know that they have threatened the whole Church, but have they threatened me personally?" He was laughing but he didn't answer the question, she related.
Fr. Basa explained that Fr. Ganni himself described the situation in Iraq during his five years as a priest there as “worse than hell.”
“Now it is even worse than in that period because of the invasion of ISIS and the dramatic situation for the minorities in Iraq, including Christians,” he said.
He added that people should be very careful to distinguish between Muslims and a certain ideology which doesn’t tolerate other religions. This ideology “should be refused”, and Muslims encouraged not to become victims of this ideology themselves.
But as a Christian and a Catholic priest, he explained, he doesn’t feel it is his place to say what Islam is – it is up to Muslims themselves to show they are peaceful.
The solution to the violence, he said, is to respect human rights and human freedom, which is a product of real religion, “not the propaganda that terrorists and fundamentalists want to offer us.”
“Real religion is the religion in which we live in peace and respect each other and the freedom of others to express their ideas, their faith, as they like,” he said.
“What we need is very simple, that they (the government) recognize our human rights, the human rights of the Iraqi people in general, and especially the minorities.”
(Story continues below)
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Continuing, he maintained that Islam should not be the established religion of the nation.
Iraq's constitution establishes Islam as the country's official religion and a foundation source of legislation. It adds that no law may contradict Islam's established provisions, the principles of democracy, or the rights and basic freedoms stipulated in the constitution.
It also guarantees the Islamic identity of the majority of Iraqis, while also guaranteeing “the full religious rights to religious freedom of religious belief and practice of all individuals such as Christians, Yazidis, and Mandean Sabeans.”
The priest maintained that “saying that Islam is the official religion of the State, is an official invitation for the fundamentalists to feel better and superior to others. That could be the start point for terrorism!”
Fr. Basa explained that from the beginning of time, Iraq has been made up of many different religions and civilizations, and that is what should be focused on.
His hope, he noted, is that the United Nations, the United States, Europe, and the whole world will help Iraq to overcome present divisions and concentrate on the human dignity and rights of all citizens of the country.