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Sunday, September 14, 2014

From Exodus to Exodus, Iraqi Christians Seek New Home

The following excerpts are from

(AFP) -- Threats by jihadists have sent a fresh wave of Christians fleeing their Iraqi homeland, bustling from exodus to exodus in search of a safe haven to rebuild their lives
Raja Marzina, who has taken refuge in Jordan with her husband and their five children, never imagined she would one day have to leave Iraq for good.

"But we had no choice; we had to flee to save our lives and our religion," she said.

Like dozens of others who fled the orgy of violence unleashed by Islamic State (IS) jihadists this summer, Marzina goes to the Syriac Catholics Virgin Mary church in Amman for prayers and to discuss the latest events back home.

IS militants between June and August seized Mosul, Iraq's second city that was home to a sizeable Christian community, and Qaraqosh, the country's largest Christian town.

Jordan is the transit point for Iraqis waiting to emigrate to North America or Europe, after a stopover in the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

"Around 70 percent of the Christians of Iraq have left their country over the past 20 years because of its successive wars and conflicts," said Wael Suleiman, the Jordan director of the Catholic relief organisation Caritas.

It was estimated their were one million Iraqi Christians before the wave of emigration began, with Baghdad once home to 600,000 of them.

The number of Christians in Iraq has been declining ever since the 2003 US-led invasion and the insurgencies that followed.

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From Exodus to Exodus, Iraqi Christians Seek New Home

Saturday, August 09, 2014

ISIS Persecution of Iraqi Christians Has Become Genocide, Say Religious Leaders

The following excerpts are from

Isis's persecution of Iraqi Christians, which has already forced tens of thousands of men, women and children to flee for their lives, is fast becoming a genocide, religious leaders have warned.

Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod of the Syriac Orthodox church said that Isis's capture of Qaraqosh, Iraq's largest Christian city, had marked a turning point for Christians in the country.

"Now we consider it genocide -- ethnic cleansing," he said. "They are killing our people in the name of Allah and telling people that anyone who kills a Christian will go straight to heaven: that is their message. They have burned churches; they have burned very old books. They have damaged our crosses and statues of the Virgin Mary. They are occupying our churches and converting them into mosques."

The archbishop, who leads the Syriac Orthodox church in the UK, urged the UK government to open the country's doors to those fleeing the violence. "We are dying, 100%," he said. "The British government needs to help people and to give them asylum. If they stay here, they will be killed."

His pleas were echoed by Patriarch Louis Sako, the Iraq-based leader of the Chaldean Catholic church, who said that about 100,000 Christians had abandoned their villages in the Nineveh plains earlier this week after Isis launched mortar attacks. He asked the EU and the UN to help them before it was too late.

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