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Et fryktelig tap for Irak og resten av verden

Posted by Fredsvenn den juli 19, 2009

Save Iraqi Christians

Minorities in Iraq include various ethnic and religious groups. The Kurds (Muslim, Yarsan and Yezidi), Assyrians, and Iraqi Turkmen represent the three largest non-Arab minorities in the country. Other smaller ethnic groups include Armenians, Roma, and Persians. Religious groups include Sunni Arabs, Christians, Mandeans, Iraqi Jews, and Baha’is.

These groups have not enjoyed equal status with the majority Arab populations throughout Iraq’s eighty-five year history. Like the Shi’a Muslims, the ruling Arab Socialist Bath Party harshly oppressed these minorities during its rule of Iraq. Under Ba’athist rule, Iraq, despite being one of the most multi-ethnic and multi-religious countries in the Near East, these groups were forced to deny their identities under Saddam Hussein’s process of Arabization. The situation of the Kurds, however, has changed since the toppling of the Baath party. The remainder of these ethnic groups continue to struggle against Islamic extremists, Arab nationalists, and criminal elements.

In an effort to encourage the U.S. government to take action to secure Iraq for religious minorities and save the Iraqi Christian community from extinction, Christian Solidarity International and many others, including Rep. Frank Wolf, are leading the effort to Save Iraqi Christians.

Save Iraqi Christians is asking the U.S. government to use its power and influence to defend religious liberty in Iraq and create conditions that allow displaced Christians and other non-Muslim minorities to return to their homeland and live and worship in peace. [1]

Fear keeps Iraqi Christians quiet about the extent of persecution the tiny minority group endures, said an Iraqi Catholic archbishop Tuesday at a private meeting with religious freedom experts and journalists.

These Christians do not fear only for their own safety, but they are afraid of retribution against fellow believers in Iraq if they speak out, explained the Most Rev. Jean Benjamin Sleiman, the head of the Latin mass church in Iraq, at a Hudson Institute hosted luncheon. This mindset has kept even Iraqi Christians in the United States and other western nations relatively quiet about the severe Christian persecution in their homeland.

It is as if Iraqi Christians speak two different languages, the archbishop told the small group of Americans gathered for the invitation-only event. To the pope they say they are being persecuted, he said, but to the public they say they are living well with occasional problems.

Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs in Iraq are those Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs (adherents of Syriac Christianity) residing in the country of Iraq. They number at an estimated 0.8 million or roughly 3% of total Iraqi population, forming the country’s third or fourth largest ethnic group.

Assyrians in post-Saddam Iraq have faced high rate of persecution by fundamentalist islamist since the beginning of the Iraq war. By early August 2004 this persecution included church bombings, and fundamentalist groups’ enforcement of Muslim codes of behavior upon Christians, e.g., banning alcohol, forcing women to wear hijab. While Assyrians only made 5% of the total Iraqi population before the war, according to the United Nations, Assyrians are over-represented among the Iraqi refugees who are stranded in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. The violence against the community has led to the exodus of perhaps as much as half of the community.

The publication of satirical cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on September 30, 2005 led to an increase in violence against the Assyrian community. In the beginning, the cartoons did not get much attention at the time of its original publish, but when the an Egyptian media picked up on the publication in late December 2005, violence and protests erupted around the world.

On January 29 six churches in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Kirkuk were targeted by car bombs, killing 13-year-old worshipper Fadi Raad Elias. No militants claimed to be retaliating for the pictures, nor is this the first time Iraqi churches have been bombed; but the bishop of the church stated ”The church blasts were a reaction to the cartoons published in European papers. But Christians are not responsible for what is published in Europe.” Many Assyrians in Iraq now feel like ”Westerners should not give wild statements [as] everyone can attack us [in response]” and ”Today I’m afraid to walk the streets, because I’m Christian.”

Also on January 29, a Muslim Cleric in the Iraqi city of Mosul issued a fatwa stating, ”Expel the (Assyrian) Crusaders and infidels from the streets, schools, and institutions because they have offended the person of the prophet.” It has been reported that Muslim students beat up a Christian student at Mosul University in response to the fatwa on the same day.

On February 6, leaflets were distributed in Ramadi, Iraq by the militant group ”The Military Wing for the Army of Justice” demanding Christians to ”halt their religious rituals in churches and other worship places because they insulted Islam and Muslims.”

Mandaeans (also known as Subbi and Sabianism) are one of the smallest religious groups in the world with only circa 70,000 followers worldwide. And historically speaking, the Mandaeism is one of the ancient religions of Iraq and certainly one of the first monotheistic religions.

The Iraq Mandaean community, in the pre 2003 war period, was the most important in the world with 30,000–50,000 of the 70,000 total living in the country mainly in the area around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Given the peaceful ethos of Mandaeans and lack of missionary movement within the faith they had traditionally formed a successful community with their Sunni and Shia neighbors and were considered “people of the book” which Islamically speaking allows them to practice religion and integrate into Iraq society even though technically this is incorrect as they are neither Jews nor Christians.

Mandaeans consider themselves Iraqi and have supported the Iraqi patriotically and served in the army during various conflicts. They were considered an economically successful community, and had achieved high levels in Iraqi society like gaining a high regard as silversmiths and goldsmiths.

Following the removal of the government of Saddam Hussein the plight of the Mandaean community has been international news. Being such a small community the Mandaeans do not enjoy the same militia protection and this has left them vulnerable to the extremist elements in both the Sunni and Shia communities. This has led to numerous instances of torture, rape, theft and murder.

These very real threats coupled with the inability of the US and Iraqi government to offer protection has resulted in the Mandaean population falling from circa 50,000 to less than 13,000 (September 2005) and 5,000 (March 2007) ethnically cleansing them from Iraqi society.

The Armenians, like their Assyrian neighbors, are Christians. As a result, many have become targets for the insurgency as well, forcing many to flee to Syria or Lebanon. The Armenian community was once a thriving community with football clubs (Nadi Armeni) and other contribution to Iraq’s young history. Today, there is only one Armenian village left in Northern Iraq, while most Armenians in live in Baghdad, their population is estimated at 20,000.

Today, there are around 650,000 Yezidis in Iraq. Yezidis are ethnically Kurdish, but many of those in Iraq do not see themselves as Kurdish in terms of ethnicity, culture, and religion. This has led to Kurdish authorities forcing Yezidis to register as Kurdish during the 2005 elections. Peshmerga troops have controlled Yezidi areas near Mosul since 2003. A predominant Yezidi politician that spoke out against Kurdish leaders was assassinated in the spring of 2005. Last year, Yezidi representatives complained that the $12 million approved for projects in Yezidi areas in Sinjar had been blocked by the intervention of Kurdish political leaders in Mosul and instead was used for a smaller Kurdish village.

There are about 60,000–400,000 Shabaks in Iraq. Despite having their own language and culture unique from other groups, Kurdish authorities have attempted to Kurdify the Shabaks by occupying Shabak villages and referring to them as «Kurdish Shabaks». In 2005, two Assyrians were killed and four Shabaks were wounded by the KDP during a demonstration organized by the Democratic Shabak Coalition, a group which wants separate representation for the Shabak community.

The Christians of Iraq are considered a minority population, and number about 636,000 in 2005, representing 3% of the population of the country. Almost 400,000 had fled to other countries. They numbered over 1 million in 1980 or 7% of the population. It is one of the oldest Christian communities of the Middle East.

Christian Communities

Chaldean Catholic Church – The majority of the Iraqi Christians belongs to the Chaldean Catholic Church and represents 350,000 persons.

Assyrian Church of the East

Ancient Church of the East

Syriac Orthodox Church

Syriac Catholic Church

The Churches of the Armenian rite

Armenian Apostolic Church

Armenian Catholic Church

The other churches and communities

Orthodox Church (Melkite)

Catholic Church (Melkite)

Roman Catholic Church (Latin)

On January 26, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed the election of Armenian Mgr Emmanuel Dabbaghian as archbishop of Baghdad. Dabbaghian was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1933, and was ordained a priest in 1967.

In Iraq, the Christians are suffering from the lack of security since the invasion in 2003.

Iraqi – Christians

Iraqi – Christians – Extinction


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