Iraq: Despite the Elections, the Situation Becomes Worse for the Christians

Source: FSSPX News

Although a good number of Iraqis voted in the second legislative elections since the fall of Saddam Hussein, with a 62.4% participation, compared to the 76.5% in 2005, the situation has not become any less difficult for the Christians.  The numbers are eloquent: there were 1.2 million Christians living in Iraq in 2003, at the time of the American invasion.  Only 600,000 remain... A count reveals about 24 Christians killed per month since the year 2003, which adds up to a total of 2,000.  The preparation for the elections was an occasion for the violence to escalate like never before: “Don't vote and don't elect Christians, or else you will die” could be read above the doorways of certain houses in Mosul, in the north of the country.  Such threats are only followed by acts of gratuitous and repeated violence.  According to one priest living there, “Mosul has become a real cemetery for Christians, and Christian families, terrified, wonder who is next on the list... Occult forces are pursuing a policy of ethnic purification that aims at our disappearance.”

Fear has given way to panic, because of the continued targeted assassinations.  The members of the Christian minority “are fleeing the city by the hundreds”, says the Chaldean Archbishop of the city, Msgr. Emil Shimoun Nona.  Questioned by the press agency AsiaNews, the prelate – successor of Msgr. Paulos Faraj Rahho who was carried off by armed men on February 29, 2008, only to be found dead two weeks later – does not hesitate to call it “ a veritable humanitarian urgency, people have abandoned everything, leaving behind them their home, their goods, their commercial activities...”.  In the middle of February, in just one week, five Christians were assassinated in the Mosul metropolis, about 375 km north of Bagdad.  Last January, several Christian shopkeepers had already been the target of armed bands (see DICI n°210).  These serious events incited the Pope to react on the 28th of this past February, when he affirmed “the profound sorrow” that this situation caused him.  A few moments after the recitation of the Angelus, from the window of his office that overlooks St. Peter's square, he especially exhorted the Christians not to weary of “being a good leaven to their country, to which they have belonged for centuries!” The Holy Father, welcoming the Iraqian diaspora present for a demonstration, also called the civil authorities and the international community “to devote themselves to procuring for the Iraqis a future of reconciliation and justice.”

The evening before, the Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi remarked that “many forces are at work to contest or even demolish the Christian presence and its influence in the zones where it is, or was, a majority”, adding that this applies equally to the western world.  Concerning Mosul, the Jesuit father asks: “How are the Christian communities going to survive?”

(Sources: apic/imedia/kna/fides/ – DICI n° 212, March 20, 2010)