Reuters reports that Christians in Iraq are being targeted by militants who seek their expulsion from the country. “With al-Qaeda declaring war on Christians in Iraq and no end to political instability in sight, Catholic experts on the Middle East fear the fate of the minority Christian community there will only worsen.”
The country is home to one of the only communities that continues to speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. (See my 2008 interview with an expert on Iraq’s Assyrian church.)
The bloodbath struck fear deep into the hearts of remaining Iraqi Christians and confirmed some of the worst concerns of a Vatican summit on the Middle East held last month that warned of a continuing exodus of Christians from the lands of the Bible.
“In Iraq, every attack prompts the exodus of thousands of Christians,” said Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian Jesuit who is one of the Vatican’s leading experts on Islam.
“They say they have no guarantees there. The Shiites have their militias, the Sunnis have their militias and the Kurds have a well-protected autonomous province in the north. The Christians have neither militia nor a region,” Samir said.
There was talk about creating a region for Christians on the Nineveh (yes, that Nineveh!) plains, but I’ve not heard much about that for a few years. Unfortunately, that remote hope seems to be the only political one that the Christians in Iraq have.
There’s always prayer…