According to Louis Sako, chief archbishop of Kirkuk for the Chaldean Christians, a Catholic sect that originated in Iraq, none of the northern archdiocese's nine churches has scheduled a Christmas Mass this year.
The above is from Michael Hastings article in the Washington Post (we're intentionally ignoring the headline). Iraqi Christians have been repeatedly targeted. Yesterday's snapshot included:
Meanwhile AFP reports that the Iraqi military is on high "alert" according to the Minister of Defense, Mohammed al-Askari, who states, "We have put our forces on alert in Baghdad, the provinces of Kirkuk and Nineveh, including its capital Mosul, where our Christian brothers will be celebrating their holidays, because we have intelligence indicating they could be attacked during this period." Brothers? How typical of Nouri's flunkies to forget the women. Timothy Williams (New York Times) reports, "At churches in Baghdad this week, Christians are being asked for identification to determine if they have names that security force members recognize as Christian. Some churches around the northern city of Mosul are digging in, surrounding their buildings with giant earthen berms to prevent car bombers from getting too close."
Extra security hasn't helped. Today AFP reports, "With Christmas just around the corner, a bomb attack on a church in the Iraqi city of Mosul killed two passersby and wounded five others, the sixth attack on Christians there in less than a month." Mohammed Tawfeeq and CNN add, "This was the second bombing near a church in Mosul in a week. On December 15, four people were killed and 40 others were injured in a car bombing near a church in western Mosul." Actually, it's the third. There were two bombings on December 15th. From that day's snapshot:
Today in Mosul, Iraqi Christians were again targeted with violence. Al Jazeera notes one bombing was at the Syrian Catholic Church of the Annunciation and another exploded at "the Syrian Orthodox Church of Purity and a nearby Christian school". Iran's Press TV counts four dead in one of the church bombings and forty injured which they identify the church as Virign Mary Church which AFP says is the Syrian Orthodox Church of Purity. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Catholic Church (which is billed as "Mariamana Church") was targeted with two bombings -- the first apparently to draw a crowd of which the 4 were then killed and the forty injured. The other church, Issa states, only suffered "material damages to the church" with no one reported dead or wounded. Mohammed Abbas and Missy Ryan (Reuters) reports among Teba Saad Jassim was among the dead ("a seven-day-old baby girl") and quotes a Mosul priest who did not want to be named stating, "We are peaceful people, but we come under attack sometimes. We are the victim of instability in this province."
Deng Shasha (Xinhua) offers this context, "Iraq's Christian community has been estimated at 3 percent of Iraq's roughly 30 million people, and has a significant presence in the Nineveh province, which has been the scene of major security crackdowns by U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces to uproot the insurgency that erupted shortly after the U.S.-led invasion."
In addition, Reuters notes a Baghdad minibus bombing which claimed 1 life and left three people injured and, dropping back to Tuesday for all the rest, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured one person, a Tarmiya roadside bombing injured three people and Brig Gen Riyada Abdulmajeed was shot dead in Baghdad.
In England, the news is of Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Helene Mulholland (Guardian) reports that he "has been called to give evidence to the Iraqi Inquiry" as have David Miliband (disclosure, I know Miliband) and Douglas Alexander, but all will testify after England's upcoming elections. Mulholland also notes:
Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former chief spin doctor, is included on the list alongside the former prime minister himself, who recently caused controversy by telling the BBC he would still have thought it right to remove Saddam Hussein if he had known he had no weapons of mass destruction.
The Iraq Inquiry, chaired by John Chilcot, adjourned for the year last week. It will begin hearing public testimony next month. Miranda Richardson (Sky News) adds, "Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General whose advice on the legality of the 2003 invasion has been at the centre of controversy, will give evidence in January or February." James Kirkup (Telegraph of London) reports on objections to the delay in calling Brown to testify:
The decision to allow ministers to wait until after the election came under fire from the Liberal Democrats, who have criticised the inquiry process as not properly independent of Government.
Edward Davey, the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman said Mr Brown should face the inquiry's questions before the election, to allow voters the chance to pass judgement his record on the war at the ballot box.
Mr Davey said: "Giving special treatment to Labour ministers not only undermines the perception of independence of the inquiry but will damage the public’s trust in politics further still.
"This looks like a deal cooked up in Whitehall corridors to save Gordon Brown and his ministers from facing the music.
He added: "British soldiers will not be impressed by a Prime Minister unwilling to step into the firing line."
Zach notes a video at Information Clearing House featuring a speech by Iraq War veteran Michael Prysner. We'll note this section:
And I tried hard to be proud of my service, but all I could feel was shame. Racism could no longer mask the reality of the occupation. These were people. These were human beings. I've since been plagued by guilt. Any time I see an elderly man, like the one who couldn't walk that we rolled onto a stretcher and told the Iraqi police to go take him away. I feel guilt any time I see a mother with her children like the one who cried hysterically and screamed that we were worse than Saddam as we forced her from her home. I feel guilt any time I see a young girl, like the one I grabbed by the arm and dragged into the street. We were told we were fighting terrorists. The real terrorist was me and the real terrorism is this occupation. Racism in the military has long been a tool to justify the occupation and destruction of another country. It's long been used to justify the killing, subjugation and torture of another people.
Michael Prysner and Iraq War veteran James Circello were on Antiwar Radio with Scott Horton and Charles Goyette discussing their group March Forward! "an affiliate of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition" composed of veterans and active-duty service members. (For those who can't stream or who are not able to listen to streams, there's an excerpt of the interview in yesterday's snapshot.)
ADDED: Thursday, Chrismas Eve, Free Speech Radio News examines the costs to Iraqis of the Iraq War in a special half-hour broadcast:
Iraqis make up the world's largest population of refugees. The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq released a wave of violence and economic instability and brought with it the destruction of key infrastructure and the near-collapse of basic services. More than 2.7 million Iraqis have been displaced within their borders and another two million have fled their country, largely to Syria and Jordan. Today we bring you a special FSRN documentary called, "Guests in the Waiting Room: Iraqi refugees in Jordan," produced by Hanan Tabbara and Salam Talib.
ADDED: The following community sites updated last night:
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