Iraqi Christians Suffer Biggest Persecution of Our Time

arton12443-0f1e31.jpgBy Wolfgang Polzer 

GOETTINGEN — While Iraq is constantly in world news reports the plight of Iraqi Christians goes mostly unnoticed. According to the Society for Threatened People in Goettingen, Germany, Iraq currently experiences the biggest persecution of Christians of our time.

In fear of murders, bomb-attacks, kidnappings, and torture Chaldo-Assyrian Christians have been fleeing the country by the thousands.

Approximately 75 percent of the 650,000 Christians in Iraq have been driven from their homes. They have fled mainly to neighboring Syria or Lebanon.

A Christian community with a history of 2,000 years is in danger of becoming extinct, according to the human rights organization.

Hundreds of Christians have been kidnapped in the past years, women raped and men beastly murdered and maimed. According to the Society bomb attacks hit 30 churches of different denominations as well as Christian schools and businesses.

Islamic clergy take part in agitation against Christians. Some try to force Christians to denounce their faith and turn to Islam or leave the country.

Death threats against Chaldo-Assyrian Christians circulate daily on pamphlets or by cell phone text messaging, according to the human rights organization. Earlier in June a Catholic priest and three deacons were brutally murdered in Mosul in Northern Iraq after Sunday prayers.

The Society has issued appeals to “rescue the Christians from the hell of Iraq”. A list with 4,400 signatures was handed over to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a recent church convention in Cologne.

The Society claims that Christians are being driven out of Iraq systematically by Muslim extremists. Security forces and Arab militia do little to protect Christians. Even the US forces do not provide ample protection, according to interviews conducted by the Society among refugees.

A Catholic leader from Iraq confirms the report of the human rights organization. Archbishop Jules Mikhael Al-Jamil, the Rome representative of the Syrian Catholic Church, has warned that Christianity may disappear from his country if no action is taken to stem the hardships.

„Members of all religions – including both Islam and Christianity – are suffering now in my country but Christians as a minority are in greater danger of seeing their historic churches disappear,“ Al-Jamil told Ecumenical News International.

„If the political situation does not change, at the end of this century there will be no Christians left in Iraq.“ Al-Jamil is the ambassador of the Syrian Catholic Church to the Vatican.

According to some estimates, Chaldean Christians in Iraq numbered about 1.5 million in the year 2000 but now account for fewer than 500,000 Iraqis. Syrian Catholics inside Iraq currently number about 80,000 according to Al-Jamil, but their numbers are diminishing every day.