ICC Note: ISIS related violence is threatening more than ever to bring about the end of 2000 years of Christian history in Iraq. This sectarian conflict and constant warring state has brought Iraq’s Christian population from 1.5 million to just below half a million. Christians are constantly facing threat of arrest, taxes, rape, and other forms of violence. Many have fled to safer regions, leaving only a few who are trying to keep Christian tradition alive or are just simply too financially destitute to leave. Many fear that Christians are beginning to be kidnapped for their faith as well.
ICC has launched a campaign to provide aid to the Iraqi church to assist those in need who have fled from the attacks. Go here to find out more and donate: Iraqi Crisis Response
07/11/14 Iraq (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The violence in Iraq is hastening the end of nearly 2,000 years of Christianity there as the few remaining faithful flee Islamic State militants, archbishops from Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk said on Wednesday.
War and sectarian conflict have shrunk Iraq’s Christian population to about 400,000 from 1.5 million before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and now even those who stayed are leaving for Turkey, Lebanon and western Europe, the prelates said on a visit to Brussels seeking European Union help to protect their flocks.
The three – Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Yohanna Petros Mouche and Kirkuk’s Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Youssif Mirkis – are all Eastern Catholics whose churches have their own traditional liturgy but are loyal to the pope in Rome.
“The next days will be very bad. If the situation does not change, Christians will be left with just a symbolic presence in Iraq,” said Sako, who is based in Baghdad. “If they leave, their history is finished.”
The lightening seizure of the northern city of Mosul last month by Muslim Sunni militants sent many residents fleeing. They wanted to return, Mouche said. “But when they did, they found no water, hardly electricity. There’s only fear,” he said.
Even in Kirkuk, in the safer Kurdish zone, Christians are leaving at a rate of several hundred a day, Mirkis said. “Our presence was a symbol of peace, but there’s so much panic and few Christians see their future in Iraq,” he said.
Christianity in Iraq dates back to the first century, when it was said the Apostles Thomas and Thaddeus brought the Gospel to the fertile flood plains of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates.