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In Iraq , Christians say they are dwindling

ICC Note

“I am afraid that Christianity will face a slow demise not only in Iraq but in the entire region where Jesus Christ lived and worked.”

January 30th, 2008 Iraq (ankawa.com)-Avak V. Asadourian, archbishop of the Armenian Church of Iraq, told Ecumenical News International that Christians are fleeing Iraq . Christians make up less than 3 percent of the country of 27.5 million.

Young people “are faced each day with death and destruction,” Asadourian said. “They are faced each day with being kidnapped or facing the agony of having a loved one who is kidnapped.” In Mosul , he said, a Syrian Orthodox priest was decapitated, apparently for refusing to “adopt another religion,” and a Chaldean priest and his three assistants were shot dead.

Iraqi faith “is strong enough to face martyrdom,” Asadourian said. But, he added, unless something is done, “I am afraid that Christianity will face a slow demise not only in Iraq but in the entire region where Jesus Christ lived and worked.”

Asadourian asked for churches in the West to intercede with their governments about the plight of Iraqis. He said the four years since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq were “the most difficult by far” of his 28-year ministry in Iraq .

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According to the Middle East Council of Churches, an ELCA partner, such experiences aren’t unusual. The MECC General Assembly said on Nov. 30, 2007, that its members report that Iraqi Christians “are forced to emigrate, their churches are assaulted and their clergy are killed.”

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