Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Another church attacked in Iraq

Today a bombing rocks Kirkuk, one apparently targeting Iraqi Christians. Xinhua notes that "a booby-trapped car" exploded leaving a church partially damaged and at least 19 people injured. Jamal Taher Bakr (AGI) reports the church is Holy Family Church, that four children and a nun are said to be among the injured and that an additional two car bombs were discovered. AFP speaks with Father Imad Hanna who states the church had not previously been targeted and that, "Women, children and men from this neighbourhood were wounded in the explosion." AP counts 23 wounded and notes that Father Imad Hanna was among the wounded. They also quote Rev Haithem Akram stating, "The terrorists want to make us flee Iraq, but they will fail."

But millions of Iraqi Christians have fled Iraq since the start of the Iraqi War. Iraqi Christians made up a tiny section of Iraq's internal population but a large portion of the refugee population. Throughout the Iraqi War, Christians have been repeatedly targeted. The most infamous attack is the October 31, 2010 attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad which was invaded and taken in the middle of a religious service. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reminds, "An October 31 attack on the Sayidat al-Nejat Cathedral, or Our Lady of Salvation Church, left 70 people dead and 75 wounded, including 51 congregants and two priests."

In the aftermath of the attack on the Baghdad church, many Iraqi Christians fled the country and, of those who remained, many sought refuge in Mosul and other areas of northern Iraq.

Friday, AFP reported the US House of Representatives -- by a 402 for and 20 against vote (all votes against were Republicans who cited economic reasons for voting against the proposal) -- called on US President Barack Obama to create a post of religious envoy citing the targeting of Coptic Christians in Egypt and "the treatment of Christians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Ahmadiyah Muslim minority in Pakistan, Bahais in Iran and Hindus in Bangladesh." In response to the House vote, Aswat al-Iraq reports, "A Member of the Iraqi Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, Hassan Khudheir al-Hamdany, has said on Sunday that the U.S. appointment of an American Envoy to protect minorities in some countries, including Iraq, 'represents an interference in the country's internal affairs'." That's a rather touchy reaction since (a) Iraq was only one of the countries on the list (with Egypt got most of the attention) and (b) the measure still has to go to the US Senate.

The following community sites --- plus Antiwar.com and On The Wilder Side -- updated last night and this morning:

Rebecca's "the damn vote," Mike's "Isaiah, Third and more" and Ruth's "You can always go home, Harry (and you should)" also went up but are not showing up on the links. We'll close with this from Paul Krugman's "The President Surrenders" (NYT via ICH):

Did the president have any alternative this time around? Yes.

First of all, he could and should have demanded an increase in the debt ceiling back in December. When asked why he didn’t, he replied that he was sure that Republicans would act responsibly. Great call.

And even now, the Obama administration could have resorted to legal maneuvering to sidestep the debt ceiling, using any of several options. In ordinary circumstances, this might have been an extreme step. But faced with the reality of what is happening, namely raw extortion on the part of a party that, after all, only controls one house of Congress, it would have been totally justifiable.

At the very least, Mr. Obama could have used the possibility of a legal end run to strengthen his bargaining position. Instead, however, he ruled all such options out from the beginning.

But wouldn’t taking a tough stance have worried markets? Probably not. In fact, if I were an investor I would be reassured, not dismayed, by a demonstration that the president is willing and able to stand up to blackmail on the part of right-wing extremists. Instead, he has chosen to demonstrate the opposite.

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