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Report: A Final Appeal: Save Christian Iraq

May 28, 2007

From Chiesa:

Christian refugees from the center and south of the country are streaming into the Kurdish cities of Erbil, Zahu, Dahuk, Sulaymaniya, Ahmadiya, and the Christian villages of the surrounding area.

But just a short distance to the north, in the region of Mosul and the plain of Nineveh, the danger becomes palpable once more. This is the historical cradle of Christianity in Iraq. There are churches and monasteries that go back to the earliest centuries. In some villages an Aramaic dialect called “Sureth” is still spoken, and Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is used in the liturgies. There are communities of various rites and doctrines: Chaldeans, Syro-Catholics, Syro-Orthodox, Assyrians from the East, Catholic and Orthodox Armenians, Greek-Melkites.

But the Christian villages are surrounded by hostile Muslim populations. And life is even more dangerous for Christians in the capital of the region, Mosul. Kidnappings are extremely common. The victims are released after their families have paid a sum of 10,000 to 20,000 dollars, or after they have agreed to hand over their homes and leave the city. But kidnapping can also end in bloodshed. In September of 2006, after Benedict XVI’s address in Regensburg, a group called “Lions of Islam” kidnapped Father Paulos Iskandar, a Syro-Orthodox priest. The kidnappers demanded that thirty fliers apologizing for the offenses brought against Islam be posted on the churches of Mosul. Then they decapitated him. On the same day, in Baghdad, another priest was killed, Father Joseph Petros. A sister told the Vatican news agency Fides: “The imams preach in the mosques that it is not a crime to kill Christians. It is a hunting of men.”


In Mosul, Islamic groups have begun to demand from Christians the payment of a tax, the jiza, the tribute historically imposed by Muslims on their Christian, Jewish, and Sabian subjects who accepted to live in a regime of submission, as “dhimmi.”

But it is above all in Baghdad that the jiza is being imposed upon Christians in an increasingly generalized way. In the neighborhood of Dora, ten kilometers southwest of the capital, with a high concentration of Christians, groups tied to al-Qaeda have installed a self-proclaimed “Islamic state in Iraq” and are systematically collecting the tax, set at between 150 and 200 dollars a year, the equivalent of a month’s expenses for a family of six.


The Iraqi constitution establishes for all religions an equality of rights that has no rival in the legislation of other Arab and Muslim countries. But the reality is the opposite. The magazine of geopolitics “Limes” wrote in an article in its latest issue, the third of 2007:

“The annihilation of the small yet great Iraqi Christian people, heirs of the hope of the prophets, would correspond to the end of the possibility that the new Iraq could become a free and democratic nation.”

And this would be a dramatic defeat for the Church as well.

Full report here.

Related Posts:
Theme: Christians under the New Tyranny in Iraq
Report: Bishop of Kurdistan: “The Church in Iraq is in great danger”


From → Reports

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