Saturday, December 25, 2010

The continued suffering of Iraqi Christians

Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) reports on Iraqi Christians, "[Rimon] Metti said Friday that he would attend only the service on Christmas morning and avoid the Christmas Eve Mass. His goal is simple: survival. Priests and Christian politicians are calling for this Christmas to be one of mourning for the faithful killed in October." October 31st, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was assaulted -- at least 70 people were wounded and approximately 70 people were killed. It started off the latest wave of attacks targeting Iraqi Christians. The response to the latest wave has been Iraqi Christians seeking sanctuary in the KRG or outside of Iraq. UPI notes, "The number of people attending Christian services in Iraq has dropped sharply since a suicide attack on a church in October, religious leaders say." Namo Abdulla (Reuters) observes, "The threat of fresh violence has led Iraqi security forces to erect high blast walls topped with barbed wire around several churches in Baghdad. Holiday decorations were noticeably absent." Catherine Jouault (AFP) reports:

In his midnight mass at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal, the Middle East's senior Catholic bishop, offered a message of solidarity to Iraqi Christians.
In Iraq itself, several hundred attended a Christmas Day service at Baghdad's cathedral, surrounded by tight security, while a smaller number went to midnight mass at the city's Saint Joseph church.
"Do not fear - that is the message today," Father Saad Sirop Hanna, the head priest at the Chaldean Catholic church, told his congregation.

Meanwhile the governmental responses? Ekklesia notes, "The European Parliament has officially welcomed a delegation of Christian leaders from Iraq and Lebanon at its last plenary session of the year. The move comes at a time when concern is high for the welfare of under-pressure Christians and other minorities in Iraq and other countries throughout the Middle East." The governments of France, Germany and Italy have offered sanctuary to those at the Church October 31st who survived (and France also offered medical treatment). Leaders around the world -- of all faiths -- expressed concern and outrage over the targeting. As it became obvious that US President Barack Obama was not going to address the issue a friend of Samantha Power's penned a laughable column that appeared at numerous sites online -- and continues to -- trashing Hillary Clinton. Hillary's spoken out, she did so last month becoming the highest ranking US government official to do so. At the UN this month, Vice President Joe Biden spoke out. Barack Obama's the one who still can't speak out. From Bridget Johnson's "Bipartisan effort pressures Obama to help Iraq's Christians" (The Hill):

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the only Assyrian member of Congress and a close friend of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), remembers well listening to her grandparents’ stories of family members being slain or fleeing the region, as they did when they came to the United States.
"History is repeating itself," the congresswoman somberly told The Hill.
Eshoo and the co-chairman of the Religious Minorities in Iraq Caucus, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), have been trying to bring awareness to the plight of Christians in Iraq since the invasion of that country by coalition forces upended the sectarian dynamic, provided fertile ground for extremist groups such as al-Qaeda to take root and put religious minorities under new pressure.

The following community sites -- plus Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan -- updated last night and today:

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends