Saturday, 27 February 2010

Please offer solidarity to Christians in Mosul

The news has escaped much of the mass media, but Christian families are leaving Mosul, Iraq, in their droves to escape a concerted campaign of violence and intimidation.
Chaldean Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona has said that Mosul is experiencing a "humanitarian emergency" and that "hundreds of Christian families" left the city Feb. 24 in search of shelter, leaving behind their homes, property, commercial activities. The situation "is dramatic", he said. 

The families have chosen to flee after a spate of violent attacks which left five Christians dead last week, and members of a whole family murdered on Tuesday. "In one house all the family members were killed -- five people," said an Iraqi member of Open Doors, a non-denominational charity helping persecuted Christians.
Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk has launched "a demonstration and a fast" to sensitize the international community to the "massacre of Iraqi Christians" and stop the violence in the country.
Pope Benedict XVI has expressed his deep concern and sorrow over the continuing wave of violence. Vatican Radio and the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reported Feb. 24 that although the Pope is on retreat and not speaking publicly, he expressed his sorrow that "in the area of Mosul, the killing of Christians continues."
Bishop Emil Nona fears that "Mosul will be emptied completely of Christians" and will visit Baghdad to plead for help from the national government in establishing some minimal security for the city's religious minority. The attacks have taken place in the run-up to elections in Iraq on March 7th. Basile Georges Casmoussa, Syrian Archbishop of Mosul, said elections always bring troubles, "but not to the point of killing people, particularly Christians. The Christians were killed not because of their politics, but because they are Christians."

Speaking to Feb. 22nd, Archbishop Sako said the elections are prompting struggle between political groups made up of Arabs and Kurds. "They are fighting to have authority, power and also the economy and there's a big tension," he said, adding that in Mosul they are "pushing the Christians to get out of the city - that is their main purpose." He warned that lack of security is due to a political vacuum in Mosul, with Arabs running the city without sharing power with the Kurds, although he said he remains hopeful that peace could return after the elections.
He also said Iraqi Christians feel neglected by the West. "[They] have the impression of being forgotten by the West that is secular," he said. "In the past, some might have wanted to protect Christians but now we have the impression of being isolated and forgotten by all."

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