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War and persecution by newly empowered Islamist forces drove Iraq’s Christians away, halving the population of the once-thriving community. But a new Christian leader vows to rebuild.
ICC Note: Christians in Iraq celebrated an unusually peaceful Easter this year as heavy security was posted outside churches and in Christian neighborhoods, the Christian Science Monitor reports. According to Louis Raphael Sako, the new head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq, more than 1,000 Christians have been killed and 60 churches have been attacked since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.
By Jane Arraf
3/31/2013 Iraq (Christian Science Monitor) – Iraqi Christians celebrated a largely peaceful Easter under heavy security as a newly-elected Catholic leader pledged to try to stop an exodus from the Middle East and rebuild the battered church community.
Soldiers and federal policemen in armored vehicles were posted outside churches and security patrols were increased in Christian areas. Because of Baghdad’s fragile security, at many churches the main Easter service traditionally ending at dawn Sunday morning was held Saturday night.
Iraq’s Christian population, which was believed to top 1 million before the war, dropped to half that as Christians fled attacks on their neighborhoods and churches. Many of them have resettled in the west. Tens of thousands of Christians who went to neighboring Syria for safety or to apply for refugee status are just now beginning to return as fighting rages in that country.

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