Iraq, the pogrom of the Christians

checkpointiraq1.jpgReligious hatred rages: 140 deaths and thousands made homeless in a year

There is only one ‘solution’: force. Intensify the surveillance, the patrols, and the control to counter the violence against the Christians. To protect the community in Mosul, the most dangerous area for the Iraqi religious minority, the government is going to increase the security forces.

A dozen dead. Prime Minister Al Maliki sees this as the only way to face the radical Islamic groups, such as the Combatants of al-Qaeda or those of the Islamic State of Iraq, who have used threats, attacks and murder to spread terror among the Christians of Mosul. Between 13 and 15 Christians have been killed in the city over the last few days, and several families have decided to flee to the north. Last February, the Archbishop of the Chaldean community, Paulos Faraj Rahno, was kidnapped, and his lifeless body was found weeks later.050826bambini_iraq31.jpg

The exodus. The attacks have motivations that are both religious and political. Anti-Christian pamphlets have surfaced in the city in recent days. Last Saturday, armed men blew up three houses owned by Christians in the al-Sukar district. The houses were empty: at least a thousand families have fled from Ninive province, an exodus which, according to the governor Duraid Kashmulah, is destined to continue, if not increase. “The responsibility lies with the men of al-Qaeda, – he explained – they and their followers want to destroy the relations between the people of Mosul, a city which is renowned for its religious tolerance”. Some say that there is an obvious political matrix behind the murder of the Christians. The community protested vociferously when the Parliament approved a regional law that eliminated the quotas for religious minorities. A Chaldean bishop, Gabriel Gordiz Toma, speculates that these attacks also occur with the intent of weakening the community in the run up to the elections. The bishop sustains that at least 350 families have sought refuge in his dioceses, in Tilkef, and that 50 of them are forced to live in the church. “If America really wants peace and democracy in Iraq, – the prelate states – then first it must guarantee the safety of the civilians”.

The worst hit by the persecutions. Muslims constitute 97 percent of the Iraqi population: 65 percent Shi’a Muslims and 32 percent Sunnis. The remaining 3 percent is made up of Christians and other minorities. Most Iraqi Christians belong to the Chaldean Church, which is descended from the Church of the East and recognizes the authority of the Pope. Others adhere to the Assyrian Protestant Church. Those worst hit by the persecutions have been the Chaldeans (more than 120 victims), followed by the Orthodox Christians (over 40), then Catholics, Assyrians, Anglicans and Armenians.

Luca Galassi