A local Muslim student at a private school in northern Iraq fatally shot his gym teacher, a Christian from the United States, before shooting himself on Thursday. Local authorities said sectarianism was not the motive, but the victim's father disagrees.
Biyar Sarwar, an 18-year-old student at the Classical School of the Medes in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, shot his gym teacher Jeremiah Small, a 33-year-old American citizen and reportedly a believing Christian, before turning the gun on himself during a morning sports lecture Thursday, The Daily World reported.
While Small died on the spot, Sarwar died later at a hospital in Sulaimaniyah, about 160 miles northeast of the national capital city of Baghdad. more >>
The toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime might have brought democracy to the country, but it also unleashed sectarian violence that has been taking a toll on the country's religious minorities, experts have told The Christian post.
International observers have been unsettled by how the number of Iraqi Christians has diminished by over 600,000 since the 2003 U.S. invasion. The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that up to 2 million Iraqis have fled the country since, with approximately 1.1 million settling in Syria and 450,000 in Jordan. A disproportionate number of those fleeing have been religious minorities, including Christians, Sabian Mandaeans, and Yazidis, according to Minority Rights Group International.
In mid-January, U.S. Military Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, like many others, claimed the collapse of Iraq's Christian population was among the legacies of America's 2003 invasion, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA). Broglio, especially concerned about Iraq's Catholics, claims believers suffered after the ousting of Hussein. The dictator, he told CNA, tended "to trust Catholics, and gave them positions of responsibility." And even if Catholics "weren't particularly part of the regime, they became identified with the regime," Broglio was quoted as saying. more >>
Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi warned earlier this week that his country is on the brink of plunging back into a volatile cycle of sectarian violence that could greatly harm the country's diverse population, including the Christian community.
"Al-Maliki is pushing my country to reach a turning point with (a) deeply sectarian dimension," the self-exiled al-Hashimi told CNN Sunday during an exclusive interview in Iraq's semiautonomous northern Kurdish region.
"The future of Iraq is grim," al-Hashimi warned in the interview. more >>
The three men connected with the 2010 Our Lady of Salvation church attack in central Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 52 people, have had their death sentences confirmed.
They were initially sentenced to death on Aug. 2, 2011, with an accomplice receiving 20 years in prison, and now the Iraqi appeals court confirmed that the men will be executed for their crimes, AFP reported.
The Islamic State of Iraq, an affiliate of al-Qaida, accepted responsibility for the attacks, where militants stormed the Our Lady of Salvation church on Oct. 31, 2010, and killed 44 worshipers, two priests and seven security guards, as well as wounding dozens of others. more >>
NEW YORK -- As the Christian community expresses its concern over reports of a mass exodus of Christians from Iraq, an Iraqi official says the situation is not as bad as it seems, and that Iraq, with a tradition of religious tolerance, very much has a chance to become an oasis of peace and tolerance in the region – but that would require the eradication of extremism.
The Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. T. Hamid Al-Bayati, met with a group of local interfaith religious leaders in the Permanent Mission of Iraq to the U.N. in New York City Thursday to discuss what the international Christian community can do to support the Iraqi government in protecting the vulnerable religious minorities. The ambassador addressed several Jewish and Christian religious leaders who have expressed concern about the international Christian community not engaging enough in helping their brethren. They have also expressed concern as to whether the Iraqi government was doing everything in its power to protect religious minorities. Among those present at Thursday's meeting were Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier, President of the New York Board of Rabbis and Dr. Paul de Vries, president of the New York Divinity School, along with several others.
News organizations as well as external research companies, and even the U.S. government have been reporting a rise in persecution of religious minority in the country – the aftermath of chaos and a rise in sectarian violence that followed the toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003. more >>
The Christians of Iraq, along with other religious minorities, live in constant fear and face potential genocide, claims Gwendolen Cates, a Christian and documentarian who spent much of the last three years on the ground in Iraq.
Iraqi Christians want to stay in the country that is their ancestral home, Cates told The Christian Post. But in order to do so, they need the support of the international community. They are a segment of three religious minorities that face extinction and banishment, according to the filmmaker, together with Sabean Mandaean and Yazidi populations. These communities are native people of the land.
“It’s like the Native Americans,” Cates said. The Assyrian Christians are not Muslim converts; the ethnic group goes back to ancient Mesopotamia. The Assyrian nation was the first to convert to Christianity, sometime between 1 and 2 CE, according to the filmmaker. more >>