|Isaac Napoleon, a worshipper at the St Shmoni Church in Dora|
Thank You George Bush
- Christians managed to live in Iraq for 2,000 years until George Bush decided to "Liberate" the nation and set off endless waves of Islamic terrorism.
(UK Telegraph) - Ten years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Christians have dwindled from more than a million to as little as 200,000.
As the last remaining Christian priest in the Baghdad suburb of Doura, Archdeacon Temathius Esha no longer just puts his trust in God's all-seeing eye. Built into the wall of his vestry, amid pictures of Catholic saints, is a 16-screen CCTV monitor, keeping watch on every corner of his church in case of possible attack.
Along with the armed guard outside and concrete anti-blast walls, it makes St Shmoni's feel more like a fortress than a house of worship. And after a decade in which Doura's Iraqi Christian community has been robbed, kidnapped and murdered by Islamist extremists, it finds itself offering sanctuary to an ever-dwindling flock.
"Doura was once one of the biggest Christian communities in Iraq, with 30,000 families," said Mr Esha, as he prepared for an afternoon congregation that barely filled two of the 22 rows of pews. "Now there are only 2,000 left. They feel they are strangers in their own land, and that makes them want to leave. The bleeding from migration is continuous."
|A sparsely attended service held at the church.|
Today, St Shmoni is one of just two of Doura's original seven churches still open, casualties of a period in which the area become one of the most notorious al-Qaeda strongholds in Baghdad. In the years that followed the US-led invasion of 2003, two churches were car bombed, while the others closed due to lack of numbers and the kidnapping for ransom of four of Mr Esha's fellow priests, which has left just him and a local monk remaining.
Over the years, his own church has had an improvised explosive device and two car bombs planted outside it. All were fortunately discovered before they were detonated.
The picture in Doura is repeated across Iraq, and indeed the wider Middle East, where the onset of the Arab Spring has ended the protected status that the region's secular strongmen gave to religious minorities. In Iraq, a Christian community that numbered more than a million in Saddam Hussein's time is now thought to have shrunk to as few as 200,000.
Those unable to join Iraqi diasporas in Europe and America often fled to sister communities in neighbouring Syria, only to find themselves in similar peril thanks to al-Qaeda's presence in the war against President Bashar al-Assad. In post-Mubarak Egypt, the Christians fear a similar reckoning, and only last month Pope Francis warned that the entire Church was in peril across the region, adding: "We will not resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians."
Yet with al-Qaeda once again on the rise in Iraq - more than 6,000 people have been killed in 2013, the most in five years - Christian communities such as Doura are already contemplating that very scenario.
Violence is on the rise again. Only two weeks ago, eight corpses were dumped in Doura. The bodies are as yet unidentified, but the fact that they were blindfolded suggests that the sectarian death squads who took Iraq into its darkest days five years ago are back at work.
With that in mind, many of those gathered at Mr Esha's church last week would make this Christmas their last in Iraq if they could.
"I will leave whenever I can," said Isaac Napoleon, who has lost a brother and a son to terrorism. "Christians are finished here in Iraq."
For the full article go to the UK Telegraph - Christians. And also Christianity in Iraq.
|Tariq Aziz - A Christian|
George W. Bush and most American politicians were (and are) clueless as to the complex tribal and religious mix of nations like Iraq or Syria. Both Iraq and Syria were Socialist and allies of Russia. To simpleminded Americans that meant they were "bad". But being secular Socialists they were also enemies of militant Islam and protected the local Christian population.
When Bush destroyed the Iraq Socialist Ba'ath Party he opened the door wide to endless Islamist attacks on Christians and other groups.
Tariq Aziz was baptized Manuel Christo; born 28 April 1936. He was the Foreign Minister (1983 – 1991) and Deputy Prime Minister (1979 – 2003) of Iraq and a close advisor of former President Saddam Hussein. Their association began in the 1950s when both were activists for the then-banned Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party. He is an ethnic Assyrian but an Arab Nationalist and a member of the Chaldean Catholic Church.
|Iraqi security forces stand guard outside the National Evangelical church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city. Iraq's Christian churches are under heavy security.|