In a predominately Muslim country, Christians in Iraq have been the targets of escalating violence. In October, a prominent Catholic church in Baghdad was attacked by militants and after an hours-long siege, 51 worshipers were killed, including at least eight women and five children. As Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News reports, there is an increase in anti-Christian violence in Iraq.
Christianity has a 2,000-year-old history in Iraq with some Christians still speaking Aramaic -the same language as Jesus. Despite these roots, the killings, bombings and attacks have forced many Christians to flee Iraq. Over 1,000 Christians have sought refugee two hundred miles north of Baghdad in an autonomous Kurdish region but tensions are high amongst Christians and Muslims. As Islamist groups become more powerful, and in places violent across the Middle East, Christian communities are diminishing, and nowhere faster than in Iraq.
"While it’s safer in Baghdad for most people now, Islamist extremists are targeting those they call "Infidels." Maybe a million Christians lived in Iraq before the war, but more than half have left and others are following." Lindsey Hilsum, ITN
"We don’t want to leave, because we’ve watered this country’s soil with our blood for thousands of years. And this is a Christian civilization with Christian history. But what’s happened has made us hate the country, which doesn’t protect us and our children." Zuhair Marzina Eashoue
"I ask people to stay, because it’s important that we maintain a Christian presence here. Christianity is like the root of Iraq. If you cut the root, you cut Iraq, and it’s finished." Andrew White
1. Where is Iraq?
2. What is the difference between Christianity and Islam?
3. Name two major Christian and/or Islamic holidays/festivals.
1. Why do you think someone would be attacked for their religious beliefs?
2. Do you think a country’s government should be responsible for the religious protection of their citizens?