Monday, November 01, 2010

Iraq / Violence against Christians

Iraqi Christians Mourn after Church Siege Kills 58
By Barbara Surk and Hamid Ahmed
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, November 1, 2010
Photo: "Iraqi security forces survey the scene outside the Sayidat al-Nejat Catholic Cathedral, or Syrian Catholic Church, in central Baghdad." (Sabah Arar/Agence France-Presse)
"Iraq's dwindling Christian community was grieving and afraid on Monday after militants seized a Baghdad church during evening Mass, held the congregation hostage and triggered a raid by Iraqi security forces. The bloodbath left at least 58 people killed and 78 wounded -- nearly everyone inside. The attack, claimed by an al-Qaida-linked organization, was the deadliest ever recorded against Iraq's Christians, whose numbers have plummeted since the 2003 US-led invasion as the community has fled to other countries. Outside Our Lady of Deliverance church, Raed Hadi leaned against the car carrying his cousin's coffin, waiting for the police to let him bury him on church grounds. 'It was a massacre in there and now they are cleaning it up,' he said Monday morning. 'We Christians don't have enough protection. ... What shall I do now? Leave and ask for asylum?' 'Now they make a show,' said Jamal Jaju, who watched as Iraqi forces set up a chain link fence around the church and pushed back observers. 'What can I say? I lost at least 20 friends in there.' Pope Benedict XVI denounced the assault as 'ferocious' and called for renewed international efforts to broker peace in the region. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also condemned the siege, saying it was an attempt to drive more Christians out of the country. Islamic militants have systematically attacked Christians in Iraq since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime. Catholics made up 2.89 percent of Iraq's population in 1980; by 2008 they were merely 0.89 percent. [...]"

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