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 >>
A Christian man kidnapped by insurgents and held to ransom for $100,000 has been found dead.
The body of Ashur Issa Yaqub was found by police in Kirkuk, the oil-rich city he was snatched from over the weekend.
The 29-year-old Chaldean Christian and father of three was a construction worker in the city. more >>
Tens of thousands of Iraqis took to the streets Friday despite calls from religious and political leaders to not take part in the nationwide “Day of Rage” protest.
So far, at least 13 people have reportedly died amid the demonstrations, which were mostly peaceful but turned violent in some areas, including central Baghdad, where clashes ensued between protesters and security forces. Dozens more have been injured, according to officials.
Inspired by uprisings around the Arab world, the demonstrators mostly sought to protest for a better government and to express discontent over corruption, chronic unemployment and poor public services. more >>
Christians in Iraq are under enormous pressure and the loss of life is an ongoing reality. Yet the very faith they are shedding their blood for is also the faith that continues to give them hope.
That was the poignant message from a delegation of Iraqi church leaders at the Central Committee of World Council of Churches in Geneva on Friday.
Their visit comes months after the Iraqi Christian community experienced one of its worst-ever attacks, when militants opened fire on the congregation of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad last October, killing dozens of people. more >>