July 16, 2009

Iraqi Churches Targeted and Bombed

By Elijah M. Brown

According to CNN, over this last weekend “at least four people were killed and 32 wounded as six Baghdad-area churches were bombed within 24 hours.” (http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/07/12/iraq.violence/index.html?iref=newssearch)

St. Joseph’s church in western Baghdad was bombed as well as two churches in central Baghdad, two churches in eastern Baghdad, and one church in southern Baghdad.

In addition to the bombings, on Sunday morning, in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk approximately 150 miles north of Baghdad, assailants “using guns with silencers… opened fire on Rizko Aziz Nissan outside his home in central Kirkuk at 8:15 a.m. Nissan was an Iraqi Christian” and a local official.

On Monday morning, in the northern city of Mosul “a car bomb detonated near a church in the al-Faisaliya district [and] wound[ed] three children.” (http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/07/13/iraq.church.bombings/index.html?iref=newssearch)

Eight separate attacks. Three different towns. Three days of violence. And each attack specifically targeted churches or a local Christian official.

In the midst of all of the controversy surrounding the Iraq war, let us remember our Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering in Iraq. Though underreported and often overlooked, in recent years no other community in Iraq has suffered and been affected as much as the Christian community. The estimated one million Christian community has been repeatedly targeted, internally displaced, and forced to flee in fear of their lives.

And the sad truth is that international Christians are more inclined to overlook or simply fail to engage with their persecuted brothers and sisters. There has never been a greater need to pursue international religious freedom and to actively stand in solidarity with those who are at the blunt end of discrimination, persecution and injustice. As we gather in our churches this week, would you hold a time of remembrance for the fallen and persecuted Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq?

Let us remember our brothers and sisters in Iraq.

And then, let us do more than just remember.

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