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Exodus of Christians from Iraq continues

ICC Note:

“Despite all the difficulties, we are hopeful because we are Christians and we love our country,” an Armenian Archbishop in Baghdad told the Anglican Journal regarding the persecution of Christians in Iraq.

By Jerry L. Van Marter

2/18/2011 Iraq (Anglican Journal) – Declarations of “mission accomplished” and U.S. troop withdrawals notwithstanding, Iraqi Christians continue to flee because their safety cannot be guaranteed and there is little hope their lives will improve soon, six Iraqi church leaders said on Feb.18 during the meeting of the World Council of Churches Central Committee.

“It is more difficult for all the people of Iraq, but especially for Christians,” said Archbishop Georgis Sliwa of the Armenian Church of Iraq. “Those remaining are not feeling any security, especially politically, and have no hope for their children‚s futures.”

The six Iraqi leaders were in Geneva, said Patriarch Addai II, to solicit help from the ecumenical community. “We work very hard with the Iraqi government about violence and struggles and how to end it so people can come back,” Addai said. “When we don’t get an answer, we turn to our friends elsewhere for support. Our hope is that all who left will return once conditions ˆ safety, stability, infrastructure ˆ are in place, but right now we have little hope and the urgency now is for those still in Iraq,” he added.

The Rev. Yousif Al-Saka of the Presbyterian Church of Baghdad said he does not expect the political unrest sweeping through the Arab world to affect Iraq. “The regimes in all those countries are dictatorial while we are a constitutional system,” he explained. “The main problem in Iraq for all the departures is social security. If we want people, especially Christians, to return, we have to establish security.”

The Christian churches in Iraq are not about to give up, they said. “Despite all the difficulties, we are hopeful because we are Christians,” said Asadourian, “and we love our country.”

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