Iraq’s Christians suffer
In late March the Red Cross issued a report that spoke of the immense sufferings of Iraqi minorities. Coinciding with the kidnap and murder by Islamic militants of the Catholic archbishop of northern Iraq, the report emphasised that Iraqis of all Christian denominations live in fear for their lives.
Last year the Reformed church in Mosul, northern Iraq, closed down after one of its elders was taken from his home and murdered. In October and November 2007 several Christian clergymen were killed. Several churches have been burned down or locked up by order of armed militants.
In Mosul, Christian university students received written warnings calling on them to convert to Islam or leave the campus. The majority are on the run; some went to Syria and others to Turkey. Several, who apparently had nowhere to go, announced their conversion to Islam.
In some sectors of Baghdad, families were forced to convert to Islam or be killed. Most Christian families with unmarried daughters had to flee the city for fear of having to give them away in muta’t (temporary pleasure) marriage to leaders of militant groups.
It is estimated that, out of the 1.6 million professing Christians of various denominations in Iraq five years ago, only 400,000 are still in the country. These are mostly in predominately Christian villages near the Turkish border.
Three Reformed churches remain open. In Baghdad, Kirkuk and Basra, services are held for the few who can still attend. Please pray for an end to the sufferings of Iraq’s Christians.