Lawmakers urge action for Iraqi Christians

, Jan. 28 (UPI) — U.S. lawmakers called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take action to protect the Christian minority population in Iraq.
Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., a Chaldean Christian, and Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., a consultant to Congress’ Iraq Study Group, wrote Clinton on the need to support religious minorities in Iraq.

“Among your first actions as secretary, we urge you to facilitate the development of a comprehensive policy to address the unique plight of Iraq’s struggling ethno-religious minorities, specifically the Christian community,” the letter read.

A spate of targeted violence against religious minorities erupted last fall, displacing nearly half of the Christian population in northern Iraq, by some estimates.

The lawmakers also highlighted the 2008 kidnapping and death of Assyrian Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho in Mosul.

Christian leaders from Iraq met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican this week, calling for a regional summit to address the issue as well.

Eshoo and Wolf in their letter pointed to figures from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which estimates the Christian community in Iraq fell from 1.4 million in 2003 to around 600,000 currently.

“We are eager to work with you on the fate of ethno-religious minorities in Iraq and the geopolitical effects of those dwindling communities,” the letter to Clinton said.