Thursday, December 23, 2010

Iraqi Christmas Celebrations cancelled after al-Qaida Threat

Their cathedrals stand silent and their neighbourhoods are rapidly emptying. Now Iraq's Christians face two further unthinkable realities: that Christmas this year is all but cancelled, and that few among them will stay around to celebrate future holy days.

It has been the worst of years for the country's Christians, with thousands fleeing in the past month and more leaving the country during 2010 than at any time since the invasion nearly eight years ago.

A shrine to Christians killed at the
Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad
in the autumn. Al-Qaida has renewed
threats against Iraq's Christians.
The latest exodus follows a massacre led by al-Qaida at a Chaldean Catholic church in central Baghdad on 31 October, which left about 60 people dead, almost 100 maimed and an already apprehensive community terrified. Since then, the terrorist group has targeted Christians in their homes, including family members of those who survived the attack.
Now more than 80% of Christians are not going to the churches," said the head of Iraq's Christian Endowment group, Abdullah al-Noufali. "There is no more sunday school, no school for teaching Christianity. Yesterday we had a discussion about what we would do for Christmas. We took a decision just to do one mass. In years before we had many masses."

(As reported by Martin Cholov, The Guardian, UK, Christian exodus from Iraq gathers pace)

Among the estimated 500,000 Christians left in Iraq—half or less of the estimated pre-invasion population of 800,000 to 1.4 million—the Chaldean archbishop is a central figure. Chaldeans, an Eastern rite of the Catholic Church, not only account for two-thirds of Iraq's remaining Christian population, but Archbishop Nona also filled a position left vacant when his predecessor in Mosul was kidnapped and killed.

Archbishop Nona was ordained at the start of 2010, almost two years after al Qaeda-linked militants kidnapped Paulos Faraj Rahho as he celebrated mass at a Mosul church. Archbishop Paulos died in captivity in March 2008.

(As reported by Sam Dagher, Wall Street Journal, US, Amid Violence, Iraq Christians Strive for Silent Night)

1 comment:

  1. Declaring that Christians are rapidly becoming "extinct" in Iraq and other Middle East countries, a worldwide group of 90-plus legislators has called on President Obama to make protecting them a top priority. See "Protect Iraqi Christians from extinction, international group urges Obama" at