The vicious murders aimed specifically at embattled Iraqi Christians, though, are nothing new. Three years ago, for example, Islamist terrorists with the al-Qaeda-linked group “Islamic State of Iraq” stormed the Our Lady of Salvation cathedral and brutally slaughtered some 60 Christian martyrs after taking more than 100 as hostages. It was among the most brutal anti-Christian attacks in recent Middle East history.
Still, the recent high-profile attacks, which tend to garner more media coverage, only tell a small part of the story of the last decade’s assault on Iraqi Christians. Since the George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq that ousted strongman Saddam Hussein, the ancient Christian communities across the nation — many have been there for close to two millennia — have suffered from ruthless persecution for their faith.
The numbers tell a more complete story. Before the U.S. government imposed so-called “democracy” on Iraq, estimates suggested there were as many as 1.5 million Christians throughout the diverse country. They had survived centuries of invasions, persecution, and more — but in many respects, the community was still thriving. Today, experts and Christian leaders suggest the number of Christians still in Iraq is somewhere closer to 200,000. Many of those would leave if they could.
At least half of the Christian population — perhaps as much as 90 percent, depending on what estimates are examined — has fled from Iraq so far. The communities are shrinking every day. Regularly faced with bombings, torture, rape, plunder, and other persecution at the hands of ruthless Islamist forces unleashed after the U.S. government invasion, Christianity may very well become extinct in Iraq in the coming years — at least if the situation does not improve.
Less than two weeks before the Christmas Day massacres, the U.K. Telegraph highlighted the growing problems in a rare article about the trend headlined “Iraq's battle to save its Christian souls: ‘Christians are finished here.’” The article pointed out that a decade after the U.S. government overthrew Hussein’s secular regime, Christians have dwindled from over a million to as little as 200,000.
Click here to read the entire article.
Photo shows Iraqi Christians attending Christmas Mass in Basra, Iraq: AP Image