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 >>
A growing number of displaced Iraqi Christians are seeking refuge in the country’s north as insecurity drives families from their homes, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The recent report revealed an estimated 1,078 Christian families have fled to Kurdistan, the autonomous region governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government, within the past three months. Out of that total, 747 have occurred just since Dec. 15. Another 276 families were displaced to the nearby northwest province of Ninewah during this period, while many more who remain have also indicated plans to move.
Though the report assessed the situation of internally displaced Christians in the predominately Muslim country, it also highlighted that many have sought refuge in nearby countries, particularly in Turkey. more >>
A regional Iraqi government has gifted the land needed for the construction of a Catholic hospital and university in Erbil, northern Iraq.
The approval, granted Monday, was a critical phase for the building projects which have been labeled as “symbols of hope for the Christian presence” by Archbishop Bashar Warda.
“We do not want Christians to leave Iraq,” Warda told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need on Tuesday. “It is clear that our society here needs schools, universities and hospitals and this provides us with an opportunity to encourage the Christians to build a future for themselves here.” more >>
Bombs targeting Christian homes in Baghdad killed two people and wounded more than a dozen Thursday night.
It was another wave of attacks against the small Christian population which is still shaken from the massacre in October that left dozens of worshippers dead and forced thousands to flee the country.
Ten bombs went off at different Christian homes on Thursday while four were defused by security forces. more >>
Despite the distractions of the festive season and cutbacks on the horizon, the Barnabas Fund is asking Christians to remember the plight of their brothers and sisters in Iraq in prayer and practical ways.
In the last couple of months, Christians in Iraq have been attacked and killed in their churches and homes and al-Qaida-linked militants have effectively waged war on them. Christmas was, as expected, a muted celebration for many Christians in Iraq who decided to mark the birth of Jesus in the safety of their homes rather than risk their lives attending church services.
Barnabas Fund recently received a letter from an Iraqi archbishop warning that Christians were too afraid to leave their homes. The very real threat of being killed in broad daylight is making it difficult to do the very practical things like shopping and, more importantly, going to work. more >>