ceader'schild Posted December 19, 2010 Share Posted December 19, 2010 i'm sorry if there is already a thread about this but nothing came up on my search:shrug: Iraqi Christians flee Baghdad after cathedral massacreUN says more than 1,000 families have left capital after 58 were killed in attack on church in October Thousands of Christians have been forced to flee in seeking refuge from militant attacks after the siege at a Catholic cathedral in October, the United Nations said today. . The UN High Commission For Refugees said at least 1,000 families had fled Baghdad and Mosul since 1 September for the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. A further 133 families had registered with the organisation in Syria, as had 109 individuals in Jordan. Father Hanna, the leading Assyrian Catholic priest in Beirut said that 450 recently arrived families had contacted with his office and plan to ask the UN for help. The mass movement of Iraq's Christians, the remnants of which make up one of the most ancient communities in the Middle East, was sparked by the brutal siege in a Baghdad Assyrian Catholic cathedral on October 31, which left at least 58 people dead and around 100 injured. Since then, Christian families have been increasingly targeted in their homes, among them survivors of the church massacre. The violence is being driven by al-Qaida and its affiliates and is being seen as an attempt to ignite sectarian chaos after repeated attempts to lure Iraq's Shias back into battle had failed. "We have heard many accounts of people fleeing their homes after receiving direct threats. Some were able to take only a few belongings with them," the UN report said. There are thought to be around 500,000 Christians remaining in Iraq, down from 1 million when Saddam Hussein was ousted. They enjoyed protection under Saddam and have not been persecuted by the various Shia-led regimes that have ruled Iraq since. However, many Christian leaders fear that Iraq's leaders can no longer safeguard them from attacks. Many suggest that the last six weeks mark the beginning of the end of an era in Iraq that dates back almost 2,000 years. The UN described the movement as a slow but steady exodus, but Christian leaders disputed this. "I can tell you that the numbers the UN are citing are too low," said Abdullah al-Naftali, head of Iraq's Christian Endowment Group. "We have recorded a 213% increase in normal departures since the church massacre. It is not a slow, or steady exodus - it is a rapid one." The large numbers of families looking for refuge in Iraq's Kurdish north have been drawn there by the region's president, Massoud Barazani, who last month pledged to protect and shelter them. Iraq's central government has also increased security around churches and Christian enclaves. "The Iraqi government has reiterated its commitment to increase the protection of places of worship," the UN said. "While overall civilian casualties are lower this year than last, it appears that minority groups are increasingly susceptible to threats and attacks." The exodus has sparked widespread concern among Christian communities elsewhere in the Middle East, such as Lebanon and Egypt, where they enjoy freedom, but are apprehensive about declining demographic balance. "The Christians in general in the broader Middle East are not really secured and feel a kind of uncertainty all over the Islamic world," said Amin Gemayel, a former president of Lebanon and patriarch of the country's largest Christian bloc. "Unfortunately there is a kind of unconsciousness among the Muslim leaders," he said in an interview with the Guardian. "Even among the moderates we don't feel an effective reaction or see initiatives to stop this kind of behaviour," he added, referring to attacks by extremists. "This is very negative for the Muslim world. The Christians bring a lot to the region. They are eastern people with eastern feelings and eastern values." source Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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