More attacks on Iraqi Christians reported on Christmas eve

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Azzaman, December 24, 2009
There has been a notable increase in attacks targeting Iraqi Christians, particularly in the northern restive city of Mosul. Mosul, the capital of Nineveh Province, used to be a main center of Christianity in Iraq prior to the 2003-U.S. invasion.

Christianity came to Mosul and the adjacent Nineveh Plain in the 1st century A.D. and reached its zenith in the 7th century.

There are probably more monasteries and churches in the city and its suburbs than mosques – but unfortunately most are abandoned today.

A bomb placed close to a church went off on Wednesday, killing one Iraqi Christian and damaging part of the church.

Other churches and a monastery were attacked this month, causing material damage but no casualties.

However, several Iraqi Christian have been killed in the city this month, some of them originally living there and others on business trips.

On Thursday, the Christmas eve, one Iraqi Christian youth was killed as he left his home in al-Tahrir district, according to www.ankawa.com, a social and news website specialized mainly in Iraqi Christian affairs.

“Are these the Christmas presents we get?” Said Fr. Faiz Wadia of the Orthodox Christian church that was attacked last week.

“Is this the way they want to congratulate us on Christmas and the New Year?” Fr. Wadia added.

At least five Mosul churches have been targeted in the past few weeks.

Late 2008 at least 40 Christians were killed and more than 12,000 forced to flee the city.

Analysts say if the anti-Christian attacks continue, Mosul will soon lose its Christian identity and standing as a center for tolerance and co-existence in the Middle East.