NBC World News had a recent feature on the impact of the Iraq war and subsequent instability on the Christian community in Iraq (“‘People turned on Christians’: Persecuted Iraqi minority reflects on life after Saddam”). This reminded me of a time about two and a half years ago when I was at a gathering in the Middle East with a variety of Christian leaders. One of the men was an Iraqi church leader who bemoaned the reality that Christians were fleeing the country in record numbers.
Read more on these topics:
- Open Doors’ “World Watch List” for 2013, which shows that Iraq has moved up from position 9 in 2012 to position 4 in terms of religious persecution against Christians
- The parallel situation in neighboring Syria in my blog post: “Christian Flight from Syria“
- The 2011 article calling international attention to this situation in my blog post: “Who Will Defend Mideast Christians?”
We must stand with our brothers and sisters.
Here are some key quotes from the article:
- “Rana stepped out of church in Baghdad in December 2006 to find an envelope wedged against her car windshield. Inside was a bullet — a message that meant she and her family were next on an assassin’s list. They fled the city the next day, leaving behind a business, a home — everything.”
- “While there is no centralized source of information on the number of Christians who have left Iraq, it is estimated that there were 2 million there in the 1990s. That number has fallen to between 200,000 to 500,000 today, according to church leaders.”
- “Extremists haven’t targeted only individual Christians and their families. On Oct. 31, 2010, gunmen stormed Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad during Sunday Mass, taking more than a hundred hostages. When security forces tried to free those held, the attackers detonated explosives. At least 58 people were killed, including two priests.”