Iraqi church leaders : Iraqi government failing nation’s Christians

By Dan Wooding/dimanche 8 juillet 2007, par

Caldwell quoted a letter sent to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II, which said, “Iraqi Christians have been targeted by a wave of attacks on their persons, churches, monasteries, homes and businesses,” The letter went on to say that Iraqi Christians expected their government to ensure their “safety, security and justice.”

The letter stated that since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, there had been “thousands of attacks” on the country’s Christian minority. It also said Christians in Baghdad were being made to choose between converting to Islam, paying high taxes or leaving their homes.

“Terrors are being incited by a number of imams in the mosques and other fanatics against the ‘Christian infidels,’” the letter said.

“The developments that follow will be even more serious,” it said. “We ask the United Nations, all peace-loving governments, human rights organizations and individuals to help the Christians of Iraq.

“The reprehensible failure of Iraq to guarantee religious freedom, justice and accountability toward Christians simply amounts to an invitation to continue the same in the future,” it added.

The letter was signed by Syrian Orthodox Bishop Toma Dawod, Father Stephen Turkhan of the Assyrian Church of the East, Father Habib Jajou al-Noufaly of the Chaldean Catholic Mission, the Rev. Khoshaba Georges of the Ancient Church of the East and Father Nizar Semaan of the Syrian Catholic Mission. It was dated June 6 but was made public June 20 by Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity helping persecuted Christians around the world.

Caldwell added that Father Jajou told the charity that Christians were fleeing Iraq at the rate of 50,000 a month.

“At this rate, there will be no Christians at all in Baghdad, Mosul or Basra a decade from now,” said the priest. “The situation is very, very miserable.”

Caldwell’s story concluded : “Figures from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees revealed last year that about 44 percent of Iraqi refugees are Christian, although Christians account for just 4 percent of the total population of Iraq.”