Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Iraq / Violence against Christians

Al Qaeda Ally in Iraq Says All Christians "Legitimate Targets"
By Taylor Barnes
The Christian Science Monitor, November 3, 2010
Photo: "Iraqi Christian women react during a funeral for two slain priests and their parishioners in Baghdad on Nov. 2." (Hadi Mizban/AP)
"The Islamic State of Iraq, an insurgent group and Al Qaeda ally, on Tuesday declared all the country's Christians 'legitimate targets.' The group says it believes that Muslim women are being held against their will in Coptic churches in Egypt. The Egyptian state; the Coptic church; and Egypt's leading Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, have all condemned the threats of violence against Christians. The threat came while Iraq was still reeling from a series of car bombs across the capital Tuesday that killed at least 113 people in Shiite neighborhoods. The attacks bore the hallmarks of Sunni Arab militants like the Islamic State of Iraq. Tuesday's massacre appeared designed to fuel sectarian violence against Shiites. That followed Sunday's targeting of Christians, when the Islamic State of Iraq seized a Catholic church in Baghdad and killed 58 people during a standoff with police. It was said to be the deadliest attack against Christians ever recorded in Iraq. 'All Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the mujahideen [holy warriors],' the Islamic State of Iraq said in a statement posted online late Tuesday. Sunni militant chatrooms have been inflamed in recent weeks with claims that the Egyptian Coptic church is forcibly holding two women, wives of Coptic priests, who converted to Islam. 'Let these idolaters, and at their forefront, the hallucinating tyrant of the Vatican, know that the killing sword will not be lifted from the necks of their followers until they declare their innocence from what the dog of the Egyptian Church is doing,' the message continued. The Coptic church is the Egyptian branch of the Eastern Orthodox right and as many as 10 percent of Egyptians claim the faith. [...]"

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