Violence Against Christians Increases In Iraq, Several Killed

Friday, September 29, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

BAGHDAD, IRAQ (BosNewsLife) -- Islamic violence against Iraq’s Christian minority has increased in recent days killing at least two people, as the Muslim month of "Ramadan and statements [about Islam] from Pope Benedict XVI have ignited an explosive atmosphere," well-informed religious rights investigators said Thursday, September 28.

Open Doors, which supports allegedly persecuted Christians, told BosNewsLife that its workers have "reported increased violence" against believers in Iraq where, "besides the bloody strife going on between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, the recent violence appears to be directed at Christians."

The group said, "several Christians have been murdered or abused and kidnapped, and a hand grenade was thrown at a priest’s car." In other incidents, in Baghdad and Mosul, several churches have been attacked, Open Doors added.

On Wednesday, September 27, a group of men reportedly fired rockets on the Chaldean Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul and detonated an explosive device outside the church's door. There were no reports of injuries.


Earlier on Sunday, September 24, the Church of the Holy Spirit was fired upon by Muslims who wanted the local bishop to ssue a condemnation of the pope’s speech, news reports said. A young man wrote on the church doors, "If the Pope does not apologies, we will bomb all churches, kill more Christians and steal their property and money," an Open Doors’ contact reported on condition of anonymity.

Following the threat, some churches reportedly wrote that they refuse to support the Pope’s statements. Also on Sunday, September 24, a hand grenade was thrown at a priest’s car parked outside St Mary’s Ancient Church of the East Cathedral in Baghdad, Open Doors told BosNewsLife. "After police and church members arrived at the scene minutes later, a car bomb went off nearby, killing a child and the church’s guard."

In addition, "earlier this month, a car bomb went off 250 meters from Open Doors’ property in Baghdad," the group added. "No one was injured, but visitors were very frightened and co-workers remain anxious," Open Doors said.


It said it has been urging "the Christian Church to unite in prayer, that the believers and their children will be strengthened, that the church leaders will be able to guide with wisdom and that all will be protected, including the Open Doors’ workers in the country."

Eddie Lyle, CEO of Open Doors UK & Ireland, said he had urged his supporters "not to look away." He said he had asked Christians, "to pray in a determined faith-filled way that God will protect His fragile, remnant Church, as well as, dispel the darkness causing Muslims to slaughter each other and attack the Church."

He stressed that, "prayer is the most important thing we can do at this time, to help raise up the Church to become brokers of peace and moderation in the new Iraq." (With reports from Iraq).

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