Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Ed West

10/17/2008 (6 years ago)

The Catholic Herald (UK) (www.catholicherald.co.uk/)

The latest wave of murders followed protests by Christians against the Iraqi Parliament's decision to remove Article 50 of the country's constitution.

Highlights

By Ed West

The Catholic Herald (UK) (www.catholicherald.co.uk/)

10/17/2008 (6 years ago)

Published in Middle East


MOSUL, Iraq (The Catholic Herald - UK) - Thousands of Christians have fled Iraq's second-largest city after a dozen people were murdered in the worst week of violence against the faithful since the US-led invasion.

Around 4,000 Christians have escaped Mosul in northern Iraq to neighbouring villages, creating a potential humanitarian nightmare as winter approaches. Many left without any possessions after receiving written threats, and militants blew up at least three Christian homes after chasing out the owners. The Iraqi government has sent 2,500 additional police to the city to protect churches.

The refugees now face a bleak winter without any food or shelter in what aid workers are calling a "desperate" situation.

Some 25 families fled in one day last week followed by another 50 the next day. It turned into an exodus after 13 Christians were murdered, including a father and son and a disabled man in his twenties. Most victims owned or worked in shops, suggesting a campaign to break the economic strength of the Assyrian Christian community.The exiles have moved north and east to the villages of the Nineveh Plains, the last stronghold of Iraq's Christian minority. In one Christian village, Qaraqosh, more than 1,000 refugees are now staying in schools and churches.

However, Qaraqosh and the others villages in the area are already overwhelmed with Christian refugees from the fighting elsewhere in the country, and Christian charities are preparing emergency food, medicine and shelter.

Albert Michael of the Assyrian Aid Society charity called the conditions "desperate" and said: "There are convoys of blankets and tents being prepared. Most of the people are being housed in churches and monasteries. Many are outside and it's getting chilly, and they can't stay much longer. The problem is what happens when these people return to their homes? Ultimately most of the people have to return. Conditions are very bad."

Mosul has been home to a Christian population for almost nineteen centuries and is close to the site of Nineveh, the capital of the ancient Assyrians, from whom Iraqi Christians claim descent. But since 2003 the city has become an Islamist stronghold and the Christian population has dropped from 25,000 to 7,000.

In March the body of Chaldean Archbishop Paul Faraj Rahho of Mosul was found in a shallow grave in the city two weeks after he was kidnapped. His three bodyguards died in the ambush on the way back from celebrating Mass.

Iraq's Christians, variously called Assyrians, Chaldeans or Syriacs, speak modern Aramaic, similar to the language spoken by Christ, and were among the first groups to convert to Christianity. The majority are members of the Chaldean Catholic Church, which is in full communion with Rome. The second-largest of the country's five major churches is the Assyrian Church of the East, from which the Chaldeans broke away in the 16th century.

The Assyrian population in Iraq fell from 1.3m in 1990 to 800,000 in 2003, and is estimated at only 400,000 today. Almost 800 Christians have been singled out for murder since the US-led invasion, but the level of violence had decreased until last month.

The latest wave of murders followed protests by Christians against the Iraqi Parliament's decision to remove Article 50 of the country's constitution, which guaranteed political representation for the country's minorities, among them Assyrians, Yazidis and Turkomen. Assyrians held protests all over northern Iraq as well as in Australia, California, Sweden and London.

At the beginning of October Hazim Thomaso Youssif, 40, was murdered outside his clothes shop. Gunmen killed Ivan Nuwya, 15, outside his home the same day, and two days later a disabled shop owner was taken away from his shop and murdered. Then Amjad Hadi Petros and his son were shot dead together at their workplace. Since then at least eight more Christians have been murdered, the latest last Sunday.

Some Christians also fled from Baghdad and Kirkuk. Several groups of Muslim gunmen entered churches in Mosul and ordered the parishioners to leave within 10 minutes, permanently close the churches and never return.At least three homes were blown up by unidentified attackers in the Sukkar district of Mosul, regarded by US and Iraqi security forces as one of the last urban bastions of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Local people are unsure of who is responsible for the murders. The Sunni Arab Al Qaeda in Iraq are the main suspects but many believe the Kurds are responsible. Mosul lies just outside the Kurdish Regional Government-controlled area but has a sizeable Kurdish population and the KRG lays claim to both the city and the Christian areas to the north. The KRG has strongly denied that Kurds were responsible.

Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula, governor of Nineveh Province, said it had been a "major displacement" and that the violence was "the fiercest against the Christians since 2003".Speaking from Erbil, 50 miles to the east of Mosul, Chaldean Fr Bashar Warda told Christian charity Aid to the Church in Need: "We are afraid that what is happening in Mosul will develop into a massacre." He said that militants were going from house to house telling Christians to leave and that the people in charge of utility and financial services in the city had warned Christian employees to leave after receiving threats of violence. He also said that the Baghdad government's response was "too little, too late".

Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said the situation was "critical" and called on the US military to do more to protect Christians and other minorities. "We are the target of a campaign of liquidation, a campaign of violence. The objective is political. We believe it is the responsibility of Americans who occupy our country to protect Iraqis. These attacks are not the first. Unfortunately, they will not be the last. Those who carry out the attacks want to either push Christians out of the country or force them to ally with some political projects."

Last Sunday Pope Benedict XVI said: "I invite you to pray for peace and reconciliation as situations cause concern and great suffering... I think of violence against Christians in Iraq and India."


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Middle East

Muslim migrants arrested for throwing Christians off vessel, victims feared dead Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fifteen Muslim migrants from Sicily were arrested after being accused of throwing 12 Christians overboard as they cross from Libya to Italy last Wednesday. According to the Palermo police, they detained the suspected perpetrators, while the victims are feared to be ... continue reading


Israeli Prime Minister warns of second Holocaust in memorial speech Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During his speech at a Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem for a commemorative event, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared Israel's current state with the operations of Washington to that of the time of Hitler. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic ... continue reading


Israeli Jews remember Holocaust in remarkable way on 70th anniversary of Nazi death camp liberation (PHOTOS) Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

People all across Israel came to a complete standstill for two-minutes to mark the Holocaust memorial day. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As sirens wailed across the country, the silence was echoing. Playgrounds, road traffic and beaches all came to a complete ... continue reading


Dead Sea dying as the River Jordan dries up Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Dead Sea, the famed Biblical body of water tread by prophets and kings, is increasingly endangered by enormous sinkholes. Coupled with the fact that the River Jordan is evaporation the Dead Sea could be literally - dying. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Muslim woman fights against odds to reform Muslim women's marginalization Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an attempt to clear misunderstanding after being branded as an ally of "Islamophobic speakers," Asra Normani was allowed to give a speech at the Duke University in North Carolina this Tuesday. The former correspondent for the Wall Street Journal said that her ... continue reading


'Mom! Dad! Jihadi John is going to slaughter me!' cartoon Obama cries before being beheaded in video Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a sick, crudely produced cartoon, U.S. President Barack Obama is shown being beheaded by masked figure identified as the infamous Islamist State executioner "Jihadi John." Obama is seen crying for his life before being beheaded by the cartoon figure. LOS ... continue reading


13-year-old Syrian girl gunned down by ISIS snipers while trying to flee terrorized refugee camp Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A teenage girl was shot and killed by the ISIS snipers last week, April 7. Identified as Zeynab Daghastani, the 13-year-old refugee tried to escape the Yarmouk Camp in Damascus, which was held by the militants, to go to the ISIS-free nearby neighborhood, Yalda, ... continue reading


Nine-year-old girl impregnated after Islamic State gang rape Watch

Image of Around 40,000 people had been kidnapped at gunpoint when Islamic State fighters attacked Yazidi villages last summer. Hundreds have returned, either by fleeing or being set free by ISIS.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In one of its countless crimes against humanity, a nine-year-old Yazidi girl is pregnant, after suffering sexual abuse at the hands of Islamic State militants in northern Iraq. The girl, released after nearly a year as a prisoner kept as a "sex slaves." LOS ... continue reading


ISIS executes ten doctors for refusing treatment to wounded members Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

ISIS has brutally executed ten doctors for refusing to treat the wounded militants of the organization. Al-Sumaria satellite television network reported that the doctors were shot in the head due to the refusal, saying that they do not support the activities of the ... continue reading


Increasing number of Jerusalem tourists report mental illness causing them to believe they are characters from the Bible Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Characterized by believing they are Biblical characters in the city of Jerusalem, thousands of pilgrims are said to be suffering from a mental condition and the number of inflicted is increasing. The so-called Jerusalem syndrome was first identified by psychologists in ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 6:1-7
1 About this time, when the number of disciples was ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
4 The word of Yahweh is straightforward, all he does ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:35-48
16 That evening the disciples went down to the shore ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 18th, 2015 Image

St. Apollonius the Apologist
April 18: Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter