“Of two million Iraqi refugees currently outside of the country, some 30 per cent are minorities, mostly Christians, according to the UN: the bulk of them in Syria, Jordan and Turkey, unable to work and living in desperate poverty. Many in Syria now fear that it will become another Iraq, with Christians caught in the crossfire between rival Islamic communities,” The Telegraph reports.
By Ed West
4/9/2012 Iraq (Telegraph) – This week’s issue of the Spectator is very important and worth buying – ie I’m in it, arguing that Britain should take action to alleviate the suffering of Iraq’s Christians, if necessary by offering sanctuary (no link, I’m afraid: you’ll just have to stump up the cash).
I met with three Iraqis who have been refused asylum in this country, all of whom had been threatened by Islamists back home. One had lost his shop to jihadi violence, another a brother. The Home Office wants to deport them back to Iraq.
Of two million Iraqi refugees currently outside of the country, some 30 per cent are minorities, mostly Christians, according to the UN: the bulk of them in Syria, Jordan and Turkey, unable to work and living in desperate poverty. Many in Syria now fear that it will become another Iraq, with Christians caught in the crossfire between rival Islamic communities.
The Christian population of Iraq has declined from over one million in 2003 to below 400,000 today. Overall some 1,000 Christians have been murdered since the 2003 invasion, and over 60 churches have been firebombed – the worst single incident being the October 21, 2010 massacre of 60 men, women and children at the Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad, which alerted the world to their suffering. Two weeks later Islamists detonated 11 bombs in Christian suburbs of Baghdad, killing five Christians and wounding 33, including a four-month-old baby.
Many of the worst attacks have been in Dora in south Baghdad, once a thriving Christian area, with two cathedrals, a Catholic seminary and a theological college. Christians are threatened with conversion, exile or death, the women forced to wear the veil (which long predates Islam, and was actually invented in Iraq by the ancient Assyrians). Now in the capital’s churches priests say Mass to empty pews, those faithful brave enough to attend having to factor in two hours to get through police and army checkpoints and endure body searches.
The situation is similar in Mosul, which for centuries was the heart of Aramaic Christianity, a bustling cosmopolitan city of Assyrians, Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Jews and Persians as well as various obscure religious minorities, the Sabaeans, Shabeks, Mandaeans and the Yezidis.