Local program details plight of Iraqi Christians

Julia Taimoorazy, president of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, will discuss the plight of the Christian Church in Iraq during an illustrated program at 3 p.m. Jan. 29 at Mountain View Presbyterian Church, 8601 Del Webb Blvd.

“We’re on the verge of extinction,” Taimoorazy said in a press release from the church.

The Iraqi Christian population is less than 50 percent of what it was in 2003, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2011 Religious Freedom Report. The country’s indigenous Christians, also called Assyrian, Chaldean and Syriac, are a separate ethnicity from Arabs and have been in the country for thousands of years.

Christian churches have been bombed more than 80 times since 2003, when the Iraq war began. Taimoorazy’s presentation will describe how thousands of Iraqi Christians have been kidnapped for ransom or murdered because of their faith and ethnicity. Christian-owned businesses have been attacked and fear an escalation following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Many Iraqi Christians have fled to neighboring countries, such as Jordan and Syria. Options for the estimated 600,000 Christians remaining in Iraq are few. Taimoorazy said they can’t go to neighboring Iran, Syria is no longer safe and Jordan can’t handle more refugees.

The program at Mountain View Presbyterian Church is open to the public. Further information is available by calling 341-7800