ICC Note: Traditional Christian communities in Iraq are on the brink of extinction in their homelands. A decade of extremist violence that has peaked with the ISIS takeover of large portions of Iraq may prove to be the final piece in a heartbreaking reality of genocide for the country’s Christians. Barring a return of leadership and unity to the country, the future looks bleak for these Christians.
11/02/2015 Iraq (NER) – One of the oldest Christian minorities in the Middle East is in danger of extinction: the Assyrian Chaldeans in Northern Iraq and adjacent Syria. They are descendants of ancient Babylonians and Assyrians who were converted to Christianity in the First Century by disciples of St. Thomas, Mar Marie and Mar Addie. These Iraqi Christians revere the prophet Ibrahim, Abraham of the Old Testament, who left Ur of Chaldea, in Southern Iraq, to found the Jewish faith and nation in Israel. Following the conquest of Judea and the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem, Jews were removed by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylonia where a community flourished for over 2,500 years until their expulsion by the Iraqi nationalist regime following the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948.
Iraqi Jews and Christians share something in common, Aramaic, the lingua franca of the ancient Middle East of two millennia ago spoken by Jews, including Jesus and his apostles. Iraqi Christians built a significant religious culture and civilization over six centuries numbering more than 7 million until the grand jihad of Islam swept out of Arabia 1,400 years ago. Their homeland is the biblical Plain of Nineveh in northern Iraq with its historical center in Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, now occupied by another group of 21st Century jihadists, ISIS.