Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New wave of attacks target Iraqi Christians

The targeting of Iraqi Christians continues today. Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports on "a coordinated series of attacks on Christian neighbourhoods in Baghdad" involving over 14 bombings. Jim Muir (BBC News -- link has text and video)adds, "Well a whole rash of bombs, in fact six different parts of Baghdad hit by them. Areas which are absolutely known to be areas of Christian concentration. Obviously no area is completely homogeneous in terms of it's population so among the three killed and the twenty-four we believed to have been wounded, we're not clear at this moment, exactly how many of them may be Christians. But what is very clear is that this was a coordinated attack aimed at areas known to have a Christian label on them and coming about a week after that warning from the Islamic State in Iraq which is a kind of umbrella group for al Qaeda [in Mesopotamia] and related groups that 'all Christians are now fair game.' It also comes just a few hours after Mr. Maliki, the incumbent prime minister visited the cathedral where the bloodbath took place two Sundays ago." Gary Mitchell (Sky News -- link has text and video) quotes the Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad, Emmanuel II Delly, stating, "They are chasing Christians in every neighbourhood in Baghdad." Sammy Ketz (AFP) quotes Baghdad's St. Joseph's priest, Father Saad Sirap Hanna, stating, "People are panicked. They come to see us in the churches to ask what they should do. We are shattered by what has happened."

October 31st, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was attacked. At least 58 people died during the assault. Following that, as Muir noted, the Islamic State of Iraq claimed credit for the siege and released a statement which included: "All Christin centres, organisations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the muhadjideen wherever they can reach them. We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood." Today would appear to be a continuation of efforts to make good on that statement.

Rawya Rageh (Al Jazeera) observes, "We have seen Christians fleeing Iraq between 2004 and 2006. Their numbers now are down to a third. This is a stepped-up attack to revive the chaos that has affected the Christian community in the past."

Jomana Karadsheh (CNN -- link has text and video) introduces
a video segment featuring footage from the October 31st assault -- from inside the church -- which Arwa Damon explains.

The international response has been near uniform with leaders from Palestine (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) to the Vatican (Pope Benedict XVI) denouncing the attacks on Christians. Notable exceptions have been Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and US President Barack Obama, neither of whom could be bothered to utter a sentence -- at least publicly -- on the October 31st assault. Monday, for the first time, the US State Dept spokesperson Philip J. Crowley made a comment:

So -- but we spoke out very significantly last week at -- when -- during -- in the aftermath of this tragedy and we continue to do whatever we can to help promote religious tolerance in Iraq and elsewhere.

Despite his assertion, they did not speak out last week -- significantly or otherwise. Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary, made a statement on November 1st and the National Security Council's spokesperson Mike Hammer made a statement the same day. That was it from anyone connected to the administration.

The following community sites -- plus IVAW and -- updated last night:

We'll close with this from Jason Leopold's "Special Prosecutor Declines to File Criminal Charges Over Destruction of CIA Torture Tapes" (World Can't Wait):

Nearly three years after he was appointed to investigate the destruction of at least 92 interrogation videotapes, a dozen of which showed two high-value detainees being subjected to waterboarding and various other torture techniques by CIA interrogators, Special Prosecutor John Durham has determined that he does not have enough evidence to secure an indictment against anyone responsible for the purge.
Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement Tuesday that Durham, a US Attorney from Connecticut, has "concluded that he will not pursue criminal charges for the destruction of interrogation videotapes."
The statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges related to the destruction of the tapes ran out Tuesday. Truthout contacted Durham's spokesman, Tom Carson, late Monday evening raising questions about whether Durham's investigation was ongoing in light of the statute of limitations expiring or whether he had concluded his probe. Carson, in an email sent to Truthout hours before Miller issued a statement, said Durham's investigation is still an "open matter."
In response to additional queries requesting clarification of that statement, Carson said, the investigation is "still an open matter, but DOJ will not pursue criminal charges for the destruction of the tapes."

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