ICC has reported that eight churches have closed in Baghdad after talking to former residents. For the past fifteen years Christians have been forced out of Baghdad. Now, there are so few Christians attending the churches that they made the decision to close. This represents a “symbolic defeat” for the church in one of the birthplaces of Christianity.
The Catholic churches were closed in May by the Vatican after seven years of falling or no attendance, said the charity which monitors persecution, pointing to three main stages of Christians leaving Baghdad since the beginning of the century.
Between 2005 and 2007 Sunni extremists turned their attention away from their sectarian fight with Shia groups and began threatening Christians. Seza, a former Baghdad resident, told ICC that she received a letter containing three bullets and a note telling her to leave her home and take only her clothes. Christians were a soft target for Islamic militants as the government crumbled during the country’s crisis, the ICC report said.
The second stage was in 2010 when an attack by six suicide bombers on Sayedat al-najat Syriac Catholic Church left 58 dead and 78 wounded. The third stage was in 2014 when the Islamic State group swept across the Nineveh plain forcing thousands of Christians to flee for safer areas in Iraq.