Canada urged to ‘rescue’ Iraqi Christians

A Canadian religious advocacy group has called for Canada to open its doors to Iraqi Christians, who it claims would face persecution.

The One Free World International group in Toronto made the call, with a statement by a member, the Rev. Majed El Shafie, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

“Canada turned away a boat full of Jewish refugees in the Second World War,” the statement said. “We can’t have that on our national conscience again.”

The group pointed out the assassination in March 2007 of an Iraqi Catholic archbishop, and said 10 Iraqi Christian churches have been bombed. It said Christians make up only 3 percent of the Iraqi population, or about 1.3 million, but all faced persecution under Islamic fatwas that call for conversion or death.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced weeks ago the country would accept 2,000 Iraqi refugees this year, up from 900 last year. Spokesman Tim Vail told the newspaper there were no plans to single out any religious group for special treatment, as decisions on who gets in are based on the advice of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.