In Jordan, prayers for the persecuted
“My sister’s husband was killed in Baghdad last year and now I am worried that his brother has been killed too. They are killing the Christians. What is our fault? How are we ever supposed to return to our country? If I ever return, I will come back [to Jordan ] in a coffin.”
By Suha Philip Ma’ayeh
10/24/2008 Jordan (ankawa.com)-Iraqi Christians in Jordan have reacted with outrage and sadness over recent attacks on their community in the north of Iraq that killed at least 12 and forced nearly 10,000 to flee their homes this month.
“We pray for those who were killed mercilessly. We pray for Iraq and for Mosul in particular,” Remon Moussalli, a Chaldean priest, told a congregation that had gathered at a small church in Amman for an evening mass.
“This is an orchestrated and ugly campaign against Christians,” Fr Moussalli said. “We hear that the families are having tough times; they do not have enough protection. Many were threatened and killed.”
The spate of attacks, the worst since 2003, underscored the plight of Iraqi Christians, who have become a dwindling minority in their country. Some estimates placed the number of Iraqi Christians at 800,000 at the time of the US-led invasion. But that number has now fallen to about 500,000 because many have left to join families abroad.
Archbishops are worried that the Christians who have lived in Iraq for the past 2,000 years will soon become extinct.
“We felt we were vulnerable. I even stopped going to church two years ago. Our priest was threatened,” said Dina Rafael, 37, who came to Jordan from Iraq with her family eight months ago.
Ms Rafael believes there is no place for Christians in Iraq anymore. “In the Zayounah neighbourhood in Baghdad where I used to live, there are no more Christians. They have left the country, it has become difficult for us to live [there]. There is no place for us in Iraq anymore. We cannot defend ourselves.
Despite news that Iraqi security forces have arrested four men in connection with the Mosul attacks, Fr Moussalli said Christians feel they do not have the support of the government in Baghdad .
What has made matters worse is the recent scrapping of Article 50 from Iraqi Electoral Law that once guaranteed minorities electoral rights.
“I am worried,” she said. “My sister’s husband was killed in Baghdad last year and now I am worried that his brother has been killed too. They are killing the Christians. What is our fault? How are we ever supposed to return to our country? If I ever return, I will come back [to Jordan ] in a coffin.”