4 Christians Killed Within 48 Hours in Iraq

Four Iraqi Christians were murdered within two days by unknown assailants, according to a Christian persecution watchdog group.

Shabah Aziz Suliman was reportedly killed in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Apr. 1, and Nimrud Khuder Moshi, Glawiz Nissan and Hanaa Issaq were murdered thereafter in Dora, a historical Christian neighborhood of Baghdad.

"The killing of four innocent people within the last two days has put a renewed fear in our hearts," said Julian Taimoorazy, president of Iraqi Christian Relief Council, in an interview with International Christian Concern. "What is important is to keep these continuous atrocities in the media and on the policy makers' radars. What we need is a more safe and secure Iraq for all of Iraqi's especially for the Christians who have faced ethno-religious cleansing."

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Since 2003, some 750 Christians have been killed in Iraq, according to Archbishop Louis Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Kirkuk. Dozens of churches have also been bombed.

Islamic extremists often target Christians under the assumption that they are supporters of the coalition force since they share the same faith as the West.

Constant death threats, lack of economic opportunities, and security instability have forced more than half of the Iraqi Christian population to flee the country within the past five years.

The U.N. High Commission for Refugees reports that although Iraqi Christians make up only three percent of Iraq's population, they account for nearly half of the refugees leaving the country.

In October, more than 15,000 Iraqi Christians were driven out of the northern city of Mosul after 13 local Iraqi Christians were killed within four weeks, including three within 24 hours. Several Christian homes were also bombed.

And last March, a high-ranking Chaldean Catholic archbishop was kidnapped and murdered outside of Mosul in northern Iraq. The death of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, who was the second most senior Catholic cleric in Iraq, sparked outcry from the Christian community over the increased violence towards the tiny Christian community that is on the brink of extinction.

Other Iraqi Christian leaders who have been murdered since the start of the U.S.-led war include Fr. Paulos Iskander, who was beheaded; Fr. Mundhir al-Dayr, who was assassinated in his Protestant church; and Fr. Ragheed Ganni and three deacons, who were gunned down and whose cars were bombed, according to Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, in the National Review.

"The suffering of Iraqi Christians has been beyond description and is not yet over. More than ever, the Iraqi Christians need our prayer and support," said Jonathan Racho, ICC's regional manager for Africa and the Middle East.

"The latest martyrdom of our brothers should serve to awaken churches in the Western countries to come to the aid of their Iraqi brothers and sisters," he said. "We call upon Iraqi officials and the allied forces in Iraq to avert further attacks against Iraqi Christians. It is simply unacceptable to watch the extinction of the Christian community from Iraq."

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