Friday, November 12, 2010

Iraqi Christians living in fear after further attacks (Barnabas Fund)

11 NOVEMBER 2010
Iraqi Christians living in fear after further attacks

"If we stay, they will kill us." - Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod, a senior Iraqi church leader

Christians in Iraq are living in a state of constant fear after a series of co-ordinated blasts targeting Christian neighbourhoods followed a bloody siege at a Baghdad church.

At least four people were killed and around 25 injured early yesterday morning when roadside bombs and mortar shells targeted homes and a church in six districts across central Baghdad – all of them areas that are predominantly Christian. The attacks came ten days after a hostage siege at a church in the Iraqi capital left more than 50 people dead. An interior ministry source told Reuters, "These operations, which targeted Christians, came as a continuation of the attack that targeted the church."

Two days after the church siege, the Islamic State of Iraq – an Al-Qaeda front group that claimed responsibility for the attack – threatened further violence, saying that Christians everywhere were "legitimate targets."

"Genocide" warning

A Baghdad church leader said that Iraqi Christians were "panicked" and did not know what to do. Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod, a senior Iraqi church leader in London, warned of a pending "genocide" and urged Christians to flee the country, while a senior cleric in Baghdad called for them to stay and bear witness to the faith, adding, "But people are human, and we can't stop them leaving."

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have already been driven from their homeland over the last 20 years because of attacks by Muslim extremists. The exodus is expected to accelerate in light of the latest outbreak of violence.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:

My heartfelt prayers go out to the Baghdad Christian community, which is clearly under siege by Islamist militants who want to rid the entire country of Christians. I fear these latest attacks may precipitate the end of the Church in Iraq.

Please Pray

For all who have lost loved ones in the attacks and that the Lord will grant peace to those who are anxious about further violence.
That Iraqi Christians will find comfort, hope and strength in the Lord at this time.
For wisdom and guidance for Christian families in Iraq as they consider whether or not to stay in their homeland.
That the new Iraqi government, reportedly formed just yesterday after eight months of deadlock, will be strong and stable. Pray that it will exercise its authority over this escalating security crisis.

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Barnabas Fund works to support Christian communities around the world where they are facing poverty and persecution. Barnabas Fund's email news service provides the media and our supporters with urgent news briefs concerning suffering Christians around the world. Further details, quotes and photos on this and other stories may be available for news editors on request.

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