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The hemorrhaging of Iraqi Christians

ICC Note:

“Iraq’s Christian community has been under brutal assault by radical Islamic elements for several years now, an easy prey in the chaotic aftermath of the US-led invasion,” Jerusalem Post reports.

By David Parsons

Middle East Christians seek honest acknowledgment of their suffering and its true inflictors.

11/20/2010 Iraq (Jerusalem Post) – The world was shocked by the news of an al-Qaida terror cell’s brutal bloodbath inside a Baghdad cathedral in late October. Radical Muslim militiamen stormed the church and held dozens of people hostage while issuing a litany of far-ranging demands, including the release of several Egyptian women who allegedly had converted to Islam and were being held against their will by the Coptic Church. In an ensuing shoot-out with Iraqi police, the gunmen slaughtered 44 Christian worshipers, two priests and seven security personnel.

This cruel atrocity was followed by a series of ongoing Islamist attacks targeting Baghdad’s Christian neighborhoods, including a string of 13 coordinated bombings two weeks later that claimed another six lives, sowing panic among the dwindling members of this two millennia-old Christian community, many of whom openly spoke of fleeing.

In actuality, Iraq’s Christian community has been under brutal assault by radical Islamic elements for several years now, an easy prey in the chaotic aftermath of the US-led invasion. While achieving its objective of toppling the despotic regime of Saddam Hussein, that conflict was deliberately prolonged by global jihadists who decided to make Iraq the central battleground of their embittered campaign against the free, democratic world. Native Iraqi Christians, in their minds, were nothing more than traitorous allies of the “Crusader” West.

Thus five churches were bombed in Baghdad on one Sunday alone in 2004. Christians have been regularly kidnapped and held for ransom, Christian shops torched, priests beheaded and Christian women beaten for “un-Islamic” dress. Iraqi Christians have even been targeted for perceived offenses against Islam committed thousands of miles away, as in the case of the Danish cartoon riots in 2005 and the pope’s remarks on Islam in September 2006.

While all segments of Iraqi society have suffered in this violence-plagued period, the Christians’ suffering has been disproportionate, as has been their emigration abroad, according to reports by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In under a decade, the Chaldean, Assyrian, Syriac, Armenian and Protestant flocks have declined from an estimated 1.4 million to roughly half that number. The Christian presence in Baghdad is now one-third of its former strength.

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