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ICC Note: As Iraq’s Christians face an uncertain future in their homelands, they are increasingly feeling that they will need to be able to defend their own communities. The country remains divided on sectarian lines and Christians are losing confidence in either the Baghdad-based Iraqi government or the Erbil-based Kurdistan Regional Government to provide reliable protection for Christian communities. It is part of a growing trend of individual communities providing for their own protection in a National Guard style system.  

08/23/2015 Iraq (DW) There’s no end to the news of atrocities committed by the terrorist militia “Islamic State” (IS) against Christians and members of other religions. The Sunni extremist group burns down churches – and kills, abducts or drives out tens of thousands of people.
Now more and more Christians in Iraq are ready to take up arms and join the newly founded militias for their own religion. They want to recapture their villages and towns. They also do not want to rely on the central government in Baghdad or the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil to do their fighting for them.
According to Saad Salloum, a political scientist at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, the emergence of Christian militias is part of a broader trend. Everyone in the war-torn country is now armed, Salloum writes on the Middle East website “Al-Monitor.” More and more Christians are thus giving up their longstanding policy of non-involvement. The trigger for this, he wrote, was the rise of the IS extremists in 2014.
But Christian self-defense units in Iraq are not a new phenomenon to Kamal Sido, Iraq expert at the Society for Threatened Peoples. “After the American invasion in 2003 there were repeated attacks on churches,” Sido said. Although IS did not yet exist, extremists were already attacking Christian places of worship. The state’s authority in the country, he said, largely collapsed after the US-led invasion.

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