The life of Iraqi Christians has not been easy. Since a siege directed against Christians in Baghdad in October 2010 killed 52 people, the situation of the followers of Christ in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation has grown worse.
About 500,000 Christians remain in Iraq, down from an estimated 800,000 to 1.4 million in 2003, according to a report by Minority Rights Group International, a research body. Persecution makes the Christian community smaller each year, with churches as well as households being targeted and causing worshippers to flee.
The Christmas holiday season has rarely been a happy one for Christians in the Middle East, where they are often not allowed to raise church buildings and house churches often experience raids and harassment. Experts on the region say the Christmas season is a particularly dangerous period for the Christian minority, when numerous acts of violence and vandalism take place. more >>
President Barack Obama announced on Friday he will withdraw all U.S. troops in Iraq by the end of 2011, marking an end to one of the most controversial and bloodiest wars in American history.
"As promised the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over," Obama said. "Today I can say that troops in Iraq will be home for the holidays.”
Obama said he and the prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, are "in full agreement about how to move forward." more >>
In a coordinated effort to generate fear among Iraqi Christians, the ethnically and religiously diverse city of Kirkuk witnessed another attack outside a Syrian Catholic Church on Tuesday around 6 a.m.
At least 23 people were wounded in the attack, mostly from surrounding homes. The church's parish leader, Imad Yalda, was inside the church during the bombing and was also among the wounded.
Following the attack, two other car bombs were also found outside Kirkuk's Christian Anglican Church and the Mar Gourgis church. more >>
The first new church in Iraq since the 2003 conflict has opened its doors late last week, with the church’s leader calling for interfaith cooperation to ensure peace and stability in their war-wracked country.
Archbishop Louis Sako, speaking during an inauguration ceremony to a gathering of both Christians and Muslims inside Mar Bulos, or Saint Paul's Church, said during Thursday's event, "Isolation is a slow death, so we have hope for a joint life as Christians and Muslims, to have a righteous country, and a city full of security, stability and dignity."
Sako's call for security and stability speaks directly to the sharp rise in the number of Christians who have fled Iraq seeking to escape the threats and attacks of terrorist group Al-Qaida. The number of Christians living in Iraq has shrunk from approximately 1.2 million in 2003 to about 400,000, according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP). more >>
A fact-finding report has warned that there may be just one generation remaining in which to safeguard the Assyrian Christian community in Iraq.
The results of the report, released on June 6th, explain that Iraq risks being “severely and negatively impacted” by failures to preserve the rights of Assyrians.
Assyrian Christians in Iraq feel a sense of abandonment and entrenchment, the report describes. Furthermore, over the past few years there has been a continual flow of the Assyrian community to neighboring countries and further abroad, and this has left the community’s very existence on a knife-edge. more >>
ISTANBUL, Turkey – A pastor in Kirkuk, Iraq told Compass that sources close to a Christian reportedly kidnapped, tortured and murdered by al-Qaida over the weekend said the kidnappers had pressured his employer to fire him because he was a Christian.
The body of Chaldean Christian Ashur Issa Yaqub was found on Monday (May 16) with marks of severe torture and mutilation. He had worked as a construction worker from the northeastern city of Kirkuk, and al-Qaida members had demanded $100,000 for his release, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“It seems that the contractor that Ashur was working for was told he had to fire Ashur because he was Christian, but he refused,” said the pastor, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Because the contractor was rich and they couldn’t do anything to him, they kidnapped Ashur, and unfortunately they killed him.” more >>