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 >>
Some Iraqi Christians took the risk and traveled to churches to attend toned-down Christmas services despite the danger of being attacked by extremists.
Hundreds of people gathered Saturday at Our Lady of Salvation, the Baghdad church where 58 people were killed by Muslim extremists Oct. 31. Evidence of the attack was clearly visible with the church walls marred by bullet holes, broken windows covered by plastic sheeting, and pieces of dried flesh and blood stuck to the ceiling, reported The Associated Press.
A day earlier on Christmas Eve, less than 100 people gathered at the Sacred Church of Jesus located near Our Lady of Salvation. The church Christmas tree was decorated with paper stars that each bear a photo of a Christian killed during the October siege. more >>
Churches throughout Iraq are canceling Christmas services after receiving threats from an al-Qaida affiliate.
Fearing that Christians will be targeted, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Monsignor Louis Sarko of Kirkuk told Agence France-Presse that they will not be celebrating the "feast of Christmas" and will be holding masses in the morning, rather than in the evening.
The Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group for Sunni Islamic insurgent groups that include al-Qaida, issued a warning late Tuesday, threatening more attacks against the Christian minority unless Egypt's Coptic Church releases two women converts to Islam. The group claims the women are being held against their will but the church has denied the allegations. more >>
The U.N. Refugee agency reported that thousands of Iraqi Christians are fleeing central Iraq and seeking refuge in the northern region of the country.
About 1,000 families have fled Baghdad and Mosul to the Kurdish-controlled region and Ninewa plains in the north, according to The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). An increasing number of Iraqi Christians have also crossed the border to Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
The agency expressed dismay that Sweden forcibly repatriated this week a group of 20 Iraqis, including 5 Christians from Baghdad, after their applications for asylum were rejected. more >>
Iraqi Christians gathered in Our Lady of Salvation church Friday morning to remember the dozens of worshippers who died there 40 days ago.
The morning mass followed an evening of prayers which drew the participation of more than 100 people. Worshippers sat on plastic chairs which were set up in place of destroyed pews.
Father Amir Jaje, the superior of the Dominican Order in Baghdad, told Agence France-Presse that many of the participants were present during the Oct. 31 attacks or were related to the victims and they "all needed some moral support." more >>
Iraqi Christians who were given indefinite political asylum in France say they don't want to return to their home country.
Thirty-six Iraqi Christians who survived the attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad were taken to Paris last month where they were given medical care and asylum.
Some survivors still had bullet or shrapnel wounds and were immediately taken to hospitals to be treated upon deplaning, reported France 24 on Monday. Lyes, who survived a bullet wound in his abdomen, said he wants to stay in France and try to bring his wife and two children over to start a new life. more >>