Iraqi Christians resilient on Easter

ICC Note:

“At least four people were wounded on Sunday when a roadside bomb exploded near an entrance to the Sacred Heart church in central Baghdad,” Reuters reports.

By Serena Chaudhry

4/24/2011 Iraq (Reuters) – Raad’s eyes well up with tears as he remembers his cousin and friends who were among 52 people killed in an assault on a cathedral in Baghdad last October.

The Iraqi Christian man, who has a shop near the Our Lady of Salvation Catholic cathedral in central Baghdad, said services held at the church for Easter showed the resilience of Iraq’s minority Christian community.

“(On Good Friday), there were candles everywhere and all the people in the church were crying. Whenever I enter the church, I cry because I remember my friends and my cousin, a priest, who was killed in the attack,” said Raad.

“I can’t forget those moments I lived through. I lost about 30 of my friends in the attack.”

Security has been tightened around churches since the October attack but violence continues. At least four people were wounded on Sunday when a roadside bomb exploded near an entrance to the Sacred Heart church in central Baghdad.

Almost six months ago, militants laid siege to the cathedral during Sunday mass in a brutal attack which killed 52 people and ended when security forces stormed the cathedral.

It was the bloodiest attack against Iraq’s Christians since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and it struck fear in the Christian community.

The United Nations has said hundreds of Christian families have since fled to Iraq’s northern Kurdish area or nearby countries.

Iraq’s Christians once numbered about 1.5 million but are now believed to have dropped to fewer than 850,000 out of a population of around 30 million.

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