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ICC Note: In Egypt and Syria, Iran and Iraq, and elsewhere across the region, Christians have repeatedly come under attack in the Middle East. In some places it has been the result of government regulations and attempts to stifle them as a minority. Increasingly, it is the result of militant Islamic groups that have targeted Christians. In Iraq, it is al-Qaeda linked groups that are targeting Christians. While in many places this fact is overlooked, there are a dedicated group of people, including Christians, Sunni Muslims, and Shi’ite Muslims, working to minimize the hostilities that produce violence.
By Edward Malnick
8/25/2013 Iraq (Telegraph) – Multiple attacks by Islamists on St George’s has prompted the Iraqi government to set up three checkpoints to protect the church.
The new security measures make it virtually impossible to attack the building and show “the government here cares about us,” Canon White – known as the “vicar of Baghdad” – says.
However the violence targeted against Christians in Baghdad and elsewhere in the region continues.
This weekend Lord Sacks, the outgoing Chief Rabbi in Britain, warns that the plight of Christians in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Egypt is a tragedy “going almost unremarked”.
In an interview with The Telegraph Lord Sacks described continuous attacks on Christian believers and churches as “the religious equivalent of ethnic cleansing”.
The Chief Rabbi said being Jewish, “you cannot but feel this very deeply and personally”.
He likened the violence to the persecution faced by Jews in Arab countries following the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
Canon White too says there is a worrying silence in British public life about the attacks on Christians in Iraq.
“The majority of political and religious leaders still don’t talk about it. The religious leaders seem to be more concerned with who is doing the flower arranging on a Sunday and whether a gay priest is going to be ordained or not.
“Most people have no idea this is going on – they really have no idea at all.”
The situation in Iraq is “considerably different” to other countries in the region because there Christians are not targeted “in any way” by the government. Instead, the biggest threat comes from al-Qaeda.
In the aftermath of the Anglo-US invasion of Iraq 10 years ago Christians were targeted as an alien minority, accused of being in league with the West.
In October 2010, gunmen attacked the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad, killing 56 worshippers.
“Christians are so frightened,” Canon White says. “The Christians here are frightened even to walk to church because they might come under attack. All the churches are targets.
“We used to have 1.5 million Christians, now we have probably only got 200,000 left in Iraq. There are more Iraqi Christians in Chicago than here.”
As well as running a medical clinic and food kitchen at St George’s, Canon White leads the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East.
Through this organisation he arranges summits with Sunni and Shia leaders to help control the violence.

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