The plight of Christians in Iraq has been a troublesome, violent story in recent years. Like much of Iraq, however, that story has turned tragic and horrific in the last few days and weeks as a terrorist group rampages the country hoping to create Sunni Islamic states in the region.
Certainly Shiite Muslims are under attack from the group, but Christians are also facing a dire situation, one which some are calling a “targeted religious cleansing of Christians.”
Christianity Today reports:
“Things are so bad now in Iraq, the worst they have ever been,” writes Canon Andrew White, vicar of St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad. “The Islamic terrorists have taken control of the whole of Mosul which is Nineveh the main Christian stronghold. The army [has] even fled. We urgently need help and support. … We are in a desperate crisis.”
Christians are fleeing severe violence targeting them, including church attacks, killings, robberies, and rapes, and the Christian population in Mosul shrunk from 35,000 to 3,000 in the past decade. In the last week, the remaining Christians fled, according to World Watch Monitor . . .
Christians already faced severe persecution in many parts of Iraq. The Christian population is only 1/4 of what it was 20 years ago. Now, along with much of Iraq, Christians are facing a new, even more dire threat.
Former Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Nina Shea, writes that “whether Iraq’s remaining Christians will be able to have a future in their ancient homeland will depend on Western help and policies.”