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The fears and hopes of Iraqi Christians

ICC Note: This message from a church leader in Iraq is the first sign of hope for Iraq ’s Christians that we have seen. Though the future is far from certain, the return of many Christians is incredibly encouraging.

by Louis Sako*

11/23/07 Iraq (AsiaNews) – There is a tangible improvement in security in Iraq , especially in Baghdad . The army in co-operation with coalition forces now controls almost all sectors of the capital. Equally important, some point out that Iran and Syria are controlling their borders with Iraq and not letting terrorists cross into the country. Yet if violence has dropped it is also for another reason. Slowly the country is turning into ethnically homogenous ethnic areas based upon a design pursued and backed by the United States . Even Iraqi media have been appeased.

According to official sources about a thousand Iraqis are making the trek home from Syria —many are Christian families. Once shut down churches are now reopening.

In Mosul however the situation remains very tense.

Christians at home or among refugee communities are going through an emotional rollercoaster, a mix of fear and hope: they want to hope in a better future but feel they have no guarantees.

Turkey continues to threaten the north, especially since its goal is to prevent the rise of a Kurdish state and put off the referendum in Kirkuk .

In Syria there are plenty of refugees left. Just a few days ago in a conference in Salzburg (Austria ), the Syro-Catholic bishop of Aleppo said that some 80,000 Christian Iraqis found refuge in that country. What will they decide? What does the future have in store for them?

We Christians in Iraq have lived through hard times. Many of us have been killed, kidnapped and forced to leave. Families are split and scattered in various countries… [Go To Full Story]

* Chaldean bishop of Kirkuk (Iraq )