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Author Topic: Christians Begin Exodus From Iraq  (Read 3450 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ben
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« on: June 11, 2004, 01:46:43 AM »

Christians Begin Exodus From Iraq
Posted June 8, 2004
By Ken Joseph Jr.

The long-predicted exodus of Christians from Iraq has begun.

Facing a June 30 deadline for transfer of power, a temporary constitution that reads, in Article 7, that Islam is the "Official Religion of the State," and the most recent humiliation for the community -- the failure to receive even one position on the Executive Council and only one ministry post, the Ministry of Emigration -- the Christians of Iraq are voting with their feet.

"On a recent night the church had to spend more time on filling out baptismal forms needed for leaving the country than they did on the [worship] service," says Amir, a deacon at a local church who does not want his full name published. "We have been flooded with parishioners desperate to leave the country, and as they cannot get an exit permit without a baptismal certificate from the church we have been swamped with requests. ... In recent days nearly 400 families as far as we can tell have filled out baptismal forms to leave the country. Our community is being decimated."

Most of the Christians in Iraq are Assyrians -- people who claim to be the original inhabitants of Iraq. The Assyrians were the people of Nineveh -- present-day Mosul -- the city to which God sent the biblical Jonah.

Because they are Christians and seen as allies of the West, the Assyrians have long been subject to persecution. The Assyrian Church, known officially as the Assyrian Church of the East, is the oldest continually existing church in the world. Assyrians are the only people in the world who still speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ.

During the Assyrian genocide, in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, it is estimated that nearly two-thirds of the Assyrian people were slaughtered.

According to figures from the previous regime, there were 2.5 million Assyrian Christians in the country with an estimated 3.5 million outside the country for a worldwide total of as many as 6 million, many of whom would return to Iraq if they had a future.

"We thought the Americans were going to bring us freedom and democracy," said 31-year-old Robert. "Instead, they are promoting Islam. We do not understand it. ... We love the Americans! We are so grateful for them removing Saddam and giving us back our freedom. We do not want their effort to be a failure if the dictatorship of Saddam is replaced by the dictatorship of Islam."

Robert continued: "The American-funded TV station, Al Iraqia, broadcasts Muslim programs four times every day and for two hours each Friday but nothing for the other religions. The recent inauguration of the new government was opened by a Muslim mullah reciting a long passage and a prayer from the Koran, but none of our priests were invited. Why do they do this? Why do the Americans promote Muslims? They need to promote equality and democracy and freedom, not Muslim dictatorship."

He lamented: "What happened to the American promise to help [Iraq] become a democracy that would be a place for all to live? This is our homeland! We are the original people of Iraq! We should not have to leave."

The community is working on two projects -- one to establish a 24-hour nationwide hotline to provide security for daily acts of intimidation that is much of the cause for the panic among the Iraqi Christians. The other is a nationwide network of "safe houses" to take care of the community, when -- as they believe -- following the handover of sovereignty to Iraq, the country will descend into chaos and civil war.

"We are having to take care of daily cases of harassment of Assyrians by Muslims," says one priest. "I just got back form helping one of our parishioners who was falsely accused by a neighbor and was about to be arrested. I had to go and sort it all out. ... Our women are accosted on the street and intimidated to start dressing according to Islamic tradition, our businesses are being burned, and the constant harassment is because of the attitude of appeasement toward Muslims."

In addition, a proposal for an Assyrian Regional Government based on Article 54 of the Transitional Administrative Law is being circulated in Iraq and in Washington in a last-ditch effort to persuade the community to stay.

"We want to stay. This is our homeland," the priest said. "But if we do not have a place where we can go, if we will be persecuted daily by Muslims again we cannot stay. We are appealing to the world to help us -- to guarantee us an area where we can be protected, where we can live in peace and where we can worship in freedom."

Ken Joseph Jr. is an Assyrian and directs Assyrianchristians.com. He is writing a book on his experience in Iraq entitled I Was Wrong. United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of UPI, a sister news organization of Insight.

-http://www.insightmag.com/news/2004/05/28/World/Outside.Viewchristians.Begin.Exodus.From.Iraq-684753.shtml
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« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2004, 05:55:46 AM »

What is going to happen to the Antiochian Orthodox Christians?
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« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2004, 05:57:00 AM »

Have you heard anything about the Antiochian Orthodox Christians in Iraq?
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« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2004, 09:08:17 AM »

Unfortunate, but to be expected. Better to leave than be killed.

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« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2004, 09:08:23 AM »

I am sure they are fairng no better.

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« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2004, 11:46:34 AM »

Ben:

In your referenced news item, it is indicated that:

Quote
. . .Most of the Christians in Iraq are Assyrians. . .
[/b]

I think inside entire Iraq, especially in the Baghdad metropolitan area, there are more Chaldean Catholics than Assyrians.

Although Christians in Iraq constitute a mere 3% of the population, the Chaldeans were/are the overwhelming majority of Christians remaining in the country, at least at the outbreak of this 2nd Gulf War.

Memory is still fresh when Tariq Aziz, a long-time Chaldean Catholic in Saddam's government,  had to seek an "emergency" audience with Pope John Paul II during the days leading to the start of the 2nd Gulf War as a ploy to avert the impending invasion by the US-led forces.

Mr. Joseph, being an Assyrian, might not be forthright in this regard and, possibly, he was inviting attention primarily to the plight of his Church.

Amado

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« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2004, 12:05:12 PM »

Isn't ironic that after the "liberation" of Iraq from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party, Christians in Iraq are now left "unprotected" by the U.S.-led coalition?

During Saddam's regime, Christians enjoyed a relatively more secure place in Iraqi society, courtesy of Tariq Aziz, a Chaldean Catholic and the only Christian of note in Saddam's ruling party.

If you will recall, Tariq Aziz, as Foreign Minister, was the leading negotiator for ending the 1st Gulf War.

He tried in vain to avert the 2nd Gulf War. Mr. Aziz was "trusted" by Saddam because of the latter's experience and expertise in diplomacy with Western nations like the U.S. and Britain.

In the "deck of cards" of prominent Iraqi government functionaries to be "hunted and captured," Tariq Aziz was way down the list.  And I wonder where he is or if he was ever captured and imprisoned.

The majority Iraqi Muslims have now a field day at the expense of the minority Christians and the Kurds to the north.

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« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2004, 12:47:20 PM »

Isn't ironic that after the "liberation" of Iraq from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party, Christians in Iraq are now left "unprotected" by the U.S.-led coalition?

Amado

Strangely, Amadeus and myself agree on this possibly political topic. The close (but not exact) parallels between Iraq and Kosovo just jump out at one, don't they?

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« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2004, 01:34:21 PM »

Very strange that it seems to be politically correct for the Christian nations to protect any and all religious minorities except their own brothers and sisters in the faith.

What is going on? Why?
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« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2004, 02:36:54 PM »

Quote
Isn't ironic that after the "liberation" of Iraq from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party, Christians in Iraq are now left "unprotected" by the U.S.-led coalition?

It is very interesting and disturbing. I remember before the war a group of human shields from my area went to Iraq and came back and wrote a wonderful article in my local paper. They were 100% against the war after speaking with Assyrian and Chaldean priests and bishops in Iraq. They warned that these minorites would be left unprotected when the U.S led coalition ousted Sadam and his regime. Everything in the article was dead on and all their worst fears about the Iraqi Christians came true.

Quote
During Saddam's regime, Christians enjoyed a relatively more secure place in Iraqi society, courtesy of Tariq Aziz, a Chaldean Catholic and the only Christian of note in Saddam's ruling party.

During Saddam's regime, the Christians enjoyed a very secure place in Iraqi society and suffered little to no persecution.

Quote
In the "deck of cards" of prominent Iraqi government functionaries to be "hunted and captured," Tariq Aziz was way down the list.  And I wonder where he is or if he was ever captured and imprisoned.

I also wonder what happened to him, but all we can do is pray for his safety and well being.

Quote
The majority Iraqi Muslims have now a field day at the expense of the minority Christians and the Kurds to the north.

Very sad, but very very true!
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« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2004, 02:44:25 PM »

Mr. Aziz is in US custody.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2974443.stm
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« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2004, 02:50:06 PM »

Thanks Deacon Lance. We should all keep him in our prayers.
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« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2004, 03:14:13 PM »

Actions speak louder than words; Mr. Aziz was a Christian in name only.
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« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2004, 03:40:51 PM »

Thats exactly why he needs our prayers Tom, but lets let God be the judge here.
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« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2004, 04:08:20 PM »

Tariq Aziz (not his real name) was excommunicated from the Church and an Atheist.  To call him a Chaldean is a disgrace because he foresook his Assyrian ethnicity in order to become a "pan-Arab."

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« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2004, 04:24:35 PM »

Even more reason to pray for him!
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« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2004, 04:26:58 PM »



What is going on? Why?
It's the Iraqi puppet government of the US doing US bidding and persecuting Christians.

This above is meant with all sarcasm.

This is evidence that the Iraqi people -- 97% of whom are Muslim are the ones beginningto run their country. And one must remember please that many of these Christians sided with Saddam's regime and held prominent posts in his government and military. I do not think they are fearing reprisals because of their religion -- I think they fear reprisals for what some of their fellow parishioners did, and fear they are in danger of being included in the coming retribution from the formerly opressed and foreign radical muslims.

The fact that Islam will be the official state religion should not come as a surprise to anyone. Rather than leave though, they should stay to help build their country. However if they choose to leave, the US needs to welcome them with open arms.

So let's see...Let's accuse the US of installing a puppet regime...and then blame the US for the fallout of not installing a puppet regime....
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« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2004, 05:05:57 PM »

It's the Iraqi puppet government of the US doing US bidding and persecuting Christians.

This above is meant with all sarcasm.

This is evidence that the Iraqi people -- 97% of whom are Muslim are the ones beginningto run their country. And one must remember please that many of these Christians sided with Saddam's regime and held prominent posts in his government and military. I do not think they are fearing reprisals because of their religion -- I think they fear reprisals for what some of their fellow parishioners did, and fear they are in danger of being included in the coming retribution from the formerly opressed and foreign radical muslims.

The fact that Islam will be the official state religion should not come as a surprise to anyone. Rather than leave though, they should stay to help build their country. However if they choose to leave, the US needs to welcome them with open arms.

So let's see...Let's accuse the US of installing a puppet regime...and then blame the US for the fallout of not installing a puppet regime....

I think you misunderstand -- I was not wondering WHY this was happening in Iraq. I was wondering why the Christian nations seem to be turning their hearts and heads to the persecution of Christians around the world, yet seem to speak out against the persecution of other religions.
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« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2004, 07:21:24 PM »

I don't want to be cynical, but I seem to recall that the Assyrians were most prominent in the North-Mosul was an Assyrian City. The Kurds massacred many Assyrians in the past. We are propbably ignoring their plight to keep good relations with the Pro U.S. Kurds
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« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2004, 08:12:08 PM »

They will use the evil of Islam to build their new world order!
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« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2004, 10:16:57 PM »

PieX...BANNED!

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« Reply #21 on: June 12, 2004, 01:18:50 AM »

I agree with PieX
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« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2004, 01:23:58 AM »

I think you misunderstand -- I was not wondering WHY this was happening in Iraq. I was wondering why the Christian nations seem to be turning their hearts and heads to the persecution of Christians around the world, yet seem to speak out against the persecution of other religions.


What Christian nations? Do any really exist anymore. Western Europeans attend Church in ever decreasing numbers the more socialist they become. Eastern Churches are still recovering from 70+ years of persecution by the Soviet Union. The US...although it has no official state Church is the only nation anyone can remotely call Christian these days....and to defend a very small Christian minority given the fact that the rest of the world has turned their backs on Iraq and accuse the US of instigating a religious a war (a modern crusade)...well the US could not politically defend this small Christian minority now can it? At least not unless the minority is specifically targetted by the radical islamists for murder and torture.

This is what socilaism and liberalism bring when confronted by radiacl islamists...Christian martyrs.
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« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2004, 01:27:50 AM »

That is the point Spartacus, the US is in many ways a Christian nation and yet we are turning our backs on the Iraqi Christians.
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« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2004, 03:03:10 AM »

[That is the point Spartacus, the US is in many ways a Christian nation and yet we are turning our backs on the Iraqi Christians.]

As wehhave turned our backs on the Orthodox Christians in Kosovo, Coptic christians in Eqypt and Ethiopia.

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« Reply #25 on: June 13, 2004, 03:07:37 AM »

So very sad, but so very true.
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« Reply #26 on: June 16, 2004, 11:31:03 AM »

The US is not a Christian nation....it is a nation of mostly Christians and other Theists.

We can not reasonably expect the US to go to extreme lengths to protect "Christian" interests. When we act we need to act for the benfit of the majority...

SHould any real persecution come to the Christians of Iraq I am quite sure we will find room for them here in the US.

As far as Kosovo....we're talking ethnic hatreds re-inforced by religious divisions...don't get me started.
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