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(Compass) – Written threats, kidnappings, bombings and murder by Muslim extremists are driving thousands of Iraq ’s minority Christian population out of their ancestral homeland, fleeing for safety to neighboring Jordan and Syria . An Orthodox bishop in Syria warns that if the emigration continues at the present rate, there could be no more Christians in Iraq in 10 years’ time. But one Iraqi church leader said he believes the Christian community would go underground first, to avoid such a possibility. Iraqi Christian refugees interviewed in Amman and Damascus admit that recent church bombings in August and September helped to spark the recent exodus. But individual attacks carried out against them by instigators of the local rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism were also a factor. They said they are specifically targeted because of their Christian faith and are viewed as collaborators with the occupying U.S. forces because “they share the same religion.” Militants also try to kidnap them because they believe Christians have Western connections and therefore access to more money than other Iraqis. Although Iraq ’s 2,000-year-old Christian community had expressed hope that a change in government would usher in a new era of full religious freedom, they now believe that the very existence of the church in Iraq is under threat.