Iraq's war on Christians
Oil and geopolitics prevent the United States and Western European countries from speaking out against what amounts to genocide against Christians in the Middle East.
As much of the world once more prepares to celebrate the birth of Christ, it is a melancholy fact that many of the most ancient churches established in his name are being pushed to the brink of oblivion across the region where their faith was born.
The culprits are Salafist Islam's increasingly virulent intolerance, the West's convenient indifference and, in the case of Iraq, America's failure to make responsible provisions to protect minorities from the violent disorder that has persisted since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
When America intervened to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Christians — mostly Chaldeans and Assyrians — numbered about 1.4 million, or about 3% of the population. Over the last seven years, more than half have fled the country and, as the New York Times reported this week, a wave of targeted killings — including the Oct. 31 slaying of 51 worshipers and two priests during Mass at one of Baghdad's largest churches — has sent many more Christians fleeing. Despite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki promises to increase security, many believe the Christians are being targeted not only by Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has instructed its fighters "to kill Christians wherever they can reach them," but also by complicit elements within the government's security services.LA Times
The United States, meanwhile, does nothing — as it did nothing four years ago, when Father Boulos Iskander was kidnapped, beheaded and dismembered; or three years ago, when Father Ragheed Ganni was shot dead at the altar of this church; or two years ago, when Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was kidnapped and murdered; as it has done nothing about all the church bombings and assassinations of lay Christians that have become commonplace over the last seven years.
The human tragedy of all this is compounded by the historic one. The churches of the Middle East preserve the traditions of the Apostolic era in ways no other Christian rites or denominations do. The followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch Syria, and it was there that the Gospels first were written down in Koine Greek. For 1,000 years, the churches of Iraq and Syria were great centers of Christian thought and art. Today, the Christian population is declining in every majority Muslim country in the region and is under increasingly severe pressure even in Lebanon, where it still constitutes 35% of the population.