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ICC Note: According to a 1987 census, there were 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. Today, fewer than 400,000 remain due to rising persecution in the country. “Maybe we will follow in the steps of our Jewish brothers,” said Monsignor Pios Cacha, a priest in Baghdad, referencing Iraq’s Jewish population, which once thrived but is now practically non-existent.
By Salam Faraj
3/13/2013 Iraq (Middle East Online) – After 10 years of attacks on Iraqi Christians, Monsignor Pios Cacha wonders if the ancient community’s days are numbered.
“Maybe we will follow in the steps of our Jewish brothers,” he says.
The priest’s reference to Iraq’s Jewish population — once a thriving community numbering in the tens of thousands but now practically non-existent — neatly sums up the possible fate of Iraq’s Christians.
The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq ended Saddam Hussein’s disastrous rule, but also turned the country into a battleground between insurgents and foreign troops, unleashing a wave of bombings and killings by militants in which Christians were not only caught in the crossfire, but targeted themselves.
The bloodiest single attack on the community happened on October 31, 2010, when Islamist militants killed 44 worshippers and two priests in Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation church.

Between 2003 and May 2012, some 900 Christians were killed, while 200 were kidnapped, tortured and ultimately released for exorbitant ransoms, according to the Iraq-based Hammurabi Organisation for Human Rights (HOHR).
Around 325,000 Christians have left their homes for other areas of Iraq, according to the organisation.
“There were 300 churches in Iraq, and now there are only 57 left. Even those that remain are targets,” according to Louis Sako, newly-elected Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, the largest Christian church in Iraq.

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