Religious tolerance in Iraq waning

LONDON, Dec. 12 (UPI) — Iraq is turning into a hostile region for religious minorities as the country moves closer to becoming a Muslim nation, Christian leaders said.
Attacks in northern Iraq attributed to various agents hit the Christian minority community in early October, forcing nearly half of its population to flee to surrounding areas and nearby Syria.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki responded, dispatching national security forces to restore calm to the northern city of Mosul.

David Alton, a cross bench member of the British House of Lords, addressed a delegation of concerned Christians convened by Aid to the Church in Need. Alton noted he was calling on Iraqi leaders to do more to examine the violence against minority religious groups in the country, the organization said.

“The Iraqi government needs to conduct a full and transparent investigation into who was responsible for the events in Mosul,” he said.

Several observers blame Sunni insurgents as the likely perpetrators, though some in the Christian community point to Kurdish agents targeting their community in an effort to influence regional demographics.

Members of the Chaldean church and other Christian groups sent a message to the delegation expressing their concern for religious minorities in Iraq.

“It seems that Iraq is one step closer to becoming an Islamic state intolerant to non-Muslims,” the statement read.