Thursday, 29 January 2009

Iraq Christianity 'facing total annihilation'

Doing a story on a conference on Christian persecution worldwide, but specifically in Iraq that was held in Trier last weekend I could not help to think who caused the problems.

Speaker after speaker, including many German Catholic Church leaders and lay people, warned that Christianity in Iraq is faced with annihilation and that little is heard about it.

During the civil war that erupted between the Shiite and Sunni Muslims in Iraq after Sadam Hussein was overthrown from his post as Iraqi dictator in 2003, Christians were often caught in the middle, participants were told. Before the U.S.-backed forces occupied Iraq, 1.5 million Christians lived there, but today it is estimated only about half a million are left. 40% of the refugees in the neighbouring countries are Christians although they only made up 5% of the population.

"Fleeing cannot be the solution to the problem," declared Marie-Ange Siebrecht, head of the Asia-Africa Department of Aid to the Church in Need. "The Christians in Iraq belong to the oldest parishes there are in the world; they have a nearly 2000-year-old tradition. Without them, the country loses its history and identity."

Author Berthold Pelser, introducing his book “Freedom of Religion worldwide” cautioned, "In Iraq today there is the threat of the total extinction of Christianity”

And who are responsible for this? No Arab or Muslim leader. No, two upright Christians: George W. Bush and Holy Tony Blair.