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Translation from English

Exodus of Christians as killers step up religious cleansing in Iraq

From The Times
http://www.timesonline.co.uk

October 14, 2008

BY Deborah Haynes in Baghdad and Tim Albone in Mosul

As the family of Iraqi Christians sat down for dinner, a group of gunmen forced their way into the house. “Ten or 12 men swarmed into my home like bees,” the grandmother of the family told The Times. “They ordered us to stand up and raise our hands.

“They put a bomb in the living room ... and forced us outside. About ten minutes later the house was blown up.”

This story of violence against Christians is one of many to emerge over the past fortnight from Mosul, a flashpoint city in northern Iraq. At least 13 Christians have been killed in that period and fear of further attacks has prompted 1,200 families to flee to nearby villages, convents, monasteries and even farther afield to Iraq's Kurdish region to the north or to Baghdad in the south.

The Government has pledged to curb the violence, sending 2,500 additional police to the city — already the focus of a security operation in May that has so far failed to bring results. The extra forces were designed to assure the Christians of the Government’s commitment to their security and protection, said Ali al-Dabbagh, the Government’s representative.

Related Links
Chaldean Catholic Archbishop found dead
Transcript: interview between Nouri al-Maliki and The Times
Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, has ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the problem. Yesterday the UN expressed concern at the recent violence against Mosul’s Christian community.

Some Christians blame al-Qaeda for the attacks while others speculate that Kurdish elements might be involved as part of a political ploy to coerce minority sects into supporting Kurdish parties before forthcoming provincial elections. This allegation is strongly denied by the Kurdish authorities.

The 69-year-old grandmother whose house, a two-storey building with orange trees in the garden, was destroyed blamed Kurdish paramilitaries. “I suspect they were Peshmerga [armed Kurdish fighters] because their Arabic was broken and they looked like Kurds,” the woman said. She, her husband, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren have fled to a village outside Mosul after the attack on Saturday. Two other houses in their neighbourhood were also destroyed.

Fuad Hussein, chief of staff for Masoud Barzani, president of the largely autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region, rejected the idea that Kurdish forces had played a part in any violence against Christians in Mosul.

“That is a campaign conducted by Baathists as well as other terrorist elements in Iraq who are trying to sour the good relationship between the Kurds and the Christians,” he said.

“Every time there is a campaign against Christians anywhere else in Iraq proper ... they come towards Kurdistan for a safe haven.”

Yonadam Kanna, one of only two Iraqi Christians in parliament, said that al-Qaeda or foreign elements with a political agenda were the likely suspects. “Al-Qaeda is targeting everyone in the country, especially non-Muslims,” he said.

Mr Kanna met Mr al-Maliki at the weekend to discuss the problems in Mosul. “[The violence] is very well organised,” he said.

The house bombing is just one in a string of incidents suffered by the Mosul grandmother, who was too afraid to let her name be published. Her nephew was shot dead in front of his children a year ago and two of her sons have been forced to flee abroad.

“Christians in Mosul cannot leave their house easily. We look like hippies when we go outside because we have to cover ourselves [with a headscarf],” she said. “Christians cannot walk easily in the street. Wherever they find a Christian they would kidnap him and take his money.” Targeted attacks against Christians, who comprise only about 2 per cent of Iraq's population, erupted after the US-led invasion in 2003. Churches were blown up and individuals killed, forcing thousands of Christians to leave the country or flee to the Kurdish north. Mosul initially escaped much of the trouble but Christians in the city say that they have also started to suffer in the past year. In February, Paulos Faraj Raho, the Archbishop of Mosul, was kidnapped and killed.

“Things are not so good in Mosul,” said Shlemon Wirduni, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Chaldean Patriarch in Baghdad, who is in contact with churches in the city.

“Today is a little better than before because of the arrival of these new government forces,” he said. “The families just want peace and security so that they can return to their homes.”

Christianity has a long history in Iraq, with Assyrian and Chaldean Catholics prospering in the ancient city of Ninevah, upon which Mosul was built, as well as in the south of the country. Mosul became a melting pot of ethnicities, comprising Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, including Muslims, Christians and other minority sects.

They co-existed peacefully until the 2003 invasion when al-Qaeda began to ferment a presence in the city.

A number of attempts to bring security to Mosul failed to achieve lasting success, making it one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq, although US forces based there say that attacks have reduced significantly compared with a year ago.

Mosul bears the scars of years of insecurity. House fronts are pitted with bullet holes and cracks from mortar or bomb blasts. Sewage runs in the street and pavements are lined with litter. Unemployment is estimated to be between 70 and 80 per cent, fuelling the insurgency.

General Tony Thomas, the second in command of US troops in the north of Iraq, estimates that there are still thousands of al-Qaeda supporters in Mosul. He puts the number of active fighters in the “high hundreds, under a thousand”.

“You can cut that in half by offering real jobs,” he said.

Christianity in Iraq

— Christians have lived in the area that now forms Iraq for about 2,000 years. According to tradition, Christianity was first preached there by St Thomas on his way to India. Mosul is called Nineveh in the Bible

— Most Iraqi Christians are Chaldeans, Eastern Catholics autonomous from Rome, some of whom still speak Aramaic

— Before the Gulf War in 1991 their number was estimated at one million. By 2003 they had dwindled to around 800,000

— Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein’s Deputy Prime Minister, was Christian, and Christians escaped much of the persecution suffered by Kurds and Shias under the Baathist regime

 





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Tishreen I = October

Exodus of Christians as killers step up religious cleansing in Iraq
October 24, 2008

In Jordan, prayers for the persecuted October 24, 2008

IRAQ More violence in Mosul: father and son killed because they were Christian October 23, 2008

Kurdish Forces Confiscating Ration Cards, Weapons From Assyrians in North Iraq October 23, 2008

Mystery shrouds attacks on Iraq’s Christians
October 22, 2008

Chaldean bishop of Kirkuk: Christians being driven out of Mosul for political reasons October 22, 2008

15,000 Iraqi Christians Driven Out of Mosul
October 21, 2008

Turkey and Secularism: Myth or Reality?
October 20, 2008

Video report by Al-Jazeera about the plight of the Assyrians of Mosul. October 20, 2008

A Christian Exodus From the Middle East
October 20, 2008

Interview wth Mr. Sarkis Oghajan
October 19, 2008

FEATURE-Iraq’s Christians “sacrificial lambs” as attacks mount
October 19, 2008

US Senator asks Rice for Briefing about Recent Attacks on Assyrians October 17, 2008

Six suspects including 4 Kurds Arrested for Attacks on Assyrians in Mosul October 17, 2008

Kurdish Involvement Suspected in Attacks on Assyrians in Mosul
October 17, 2008

Interview with Mr. Napoleon Patto, President of the Assyrian Aid Society-Iraq October 16, 2008

Assyrian Aid Society Asks for Help with Mosul Refugees
October 16, 2008

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October 16, 2008

IRAQ Kurds and Arabs exchange accusations over attacks on Christians in Mosul October 15, 2008

Video: Iraqi Christians flee Mosul
October 15, 2008

Iraq Pledges to Probe Attacks on Christians
October 15, 2008

Unheard Voices: Australia's role in Iraq's growing Refuge Crisis
Cry for Assistance for Christians in Iraq
October 15, 2008

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October 14, 2008

US condemns attacks on Iraq’s Christians
October 14, 2008

Assyrians Demonstrate in Stockholm Against Persecution in Iraq
October 13, 2008

IRAQ Arab media "discover" the persecution of Christians in Mosul as another Christian is killed October 13, 2008

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October 13, 2008

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October 13, 2008

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13, 2008

Iraq's Prime Minister Nurial-Maliki meets with MPs and Representatives of the Christian Community 12, 2008

Muslim Threats Force Assyrians to Flee From Mosul October, 11, 2008

Official: 3,000 Christians flee Iraq's Mosul October, 11, 2008

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October, 11, 2008

Iraqi group urges end of campaign against Christians in Mosul
October, 11, 2008

After the bloodbath in Iraq October, 11, 2008

Iraq archbishop warns Christians face ‘liquidation’
October, 10, 200
8

EU MEPs Confronted With Dire State of Iraq’s Christians
October, 10, 2008

Kurdish Officials Block Assyrian Demonstration in North Iraq
October, 9, 2008

Islamic fundamentalists: "expel Christians from Mosul"
October, 9, 2008

Is this why Christians of Iraq are being Killed? October.8, 2008

Iraq: 'Three Christians killed in 24 hours' October.8, 2008

Mosul, another "targeted murder" against the Christian community
October.6, 2008

IRAQ Mosul, the relentless slaughter of Iraqi Christians
October.6, 2008

Christians in Iraq demand quotas October.6, 2008

Voice Is Sought for Iraqi Christians October.6, 2008

Assyrians Demonstrate in Los Angeles Against Iraq Election Law
October.6, 2008

Christian Security Forces Growing Stronger In Iraq October.6, 2008

British MP visits Christians in Iraq October.5, 2008

Iraq's Talabani Pledges to Restore Minorities Law: Exclusive
October. 3, 2008

The Biggest Assyrian-Chaldean Demonstration in Northern Iraq
October. 2, 2008

UN criticises Iraq’s failure to include minorities in vote law
October. 2, 2008

Eilool = September

Assyrian artifact finds a new home at CSU Stanislaus Sept. 30, 08

Assyrian Chaldean Festival moves to valley, draws crowd
Sept. 30, 08

Iraq: New Election law disadvantages minorities – Quota system called for Sept. 30, 08

Demonstration in the Plain of Nineveh Sept. 30, 08

Iraq PM seeks safeguards for Christians Sept. 29, 08

Obama Questions Rice on Marginalization of Iraq's Minorities
Sept. 29, 08

A Political Coup Against Iraq's Minorities Sept. 29, 08

Assyrian Church of the East calls for Assyrian rights in Iraq
Sept. 28, 08

Let’s Hear You Loud and Clear! Sept. 28, 08

Iraqi Christians protest the end of their representation in government Sept. 28, 08

Article Guaranteeing Minority Electoral Rights Removed from Iraqi Electoral Law Sept. 27, 08

'If You Want to See Blood Come to Mosul' Sept. 22, 08

Assyrians call for unity in Iraq Sept. 22, 08

The Iraqi Police in Mosul managed to release the kidnapped Riyadh Batti Sept. 20, 08

First economic newspaper published in Mosul Sept. 18, 08

The Churches have a role to play in Iraq Sept. 18, 08

Turkey Attempting to Confiscate Assyrian Monastery's Land
Sept. 17, 08

Refugees Employment Assistance in Lodon Sept. 16, 08

Fresh violence in Mosul, two Christians kidnapped and killed
Sept. 16, 08

Assyrians in Northern Iraq Say They Will Not Return to Baghdad
Sept. 16, 08

Assyria, Art & Empire" treasures of Assyria from the British Museum Sept. 15, 08

`Yesterday's Children - Growing up Assyrian in Persia'. Sept. 15, 08

The 25th Worldwide AUA Congress Sept. 15, 08

A New Assyrian Cook Book Sept. 14, 08

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED AT THE UNITY FESTIVAL Sept. 13, 08

Mandaean family murdered in Baghdad Sept. 12, 08

Kurdish Land Grabs Leave Assyrians Dependent on Food Aid Sept. 11, 08

War on Christians in the Middle East must be stopped Sept. 8, 08

Iraq’s first Christian militia takes stand against Qaeda Sept. 8, 08

Sion Ebrahami: I was taken hostage by the moujahadeen Sept. 4, 08

Iraqi media ignore kidnapping of Christians, archbishop says
Sept. 4, 08

Ab = August

Relations Sour Between Kurds and Central Government August 31, 08

A Half Million Iraqi Christians Among Refugees August 28, 08

Iraq archbishop speaks out as abductions increase August 28, 08

Kirkuk, the Little Iraq August 25, 08

Protest on the highest mountains in Australia in remembrance of the Assyrian Genocide August 25, 08

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black August 21, 08

Iraqi Christians: Round Trip to Death Street August 21, 08

In Kirkuk Christian and Muslim Leaders Pray for Peace in the Country August 20, 08

Torture Chamber, Bodies Found At Mosque in Iraq August 20, 08

Paul Batou at the ALLISON COREY Gallery August 19, 08

Ancient Assyrian Monumental Art Work Heralded at MFA Boston
August 16, 08

Famed singers celebrate the Assyrian culture at Gallo Center
August 15, 08

The Only Christian Assyrian member of Iraqi parliament touring U.S. August 14, 08

Iraq Press Roundup about Kurds and Kirkuk August 14, 08

COMMEMORATION OF THE ASSYRIAN GENOCIDE AND MARTYRS DAY in Australia August 12, 08

Assyrian community in Canada marks Genocide Awareness Day
August 12, 08

Tammuz = July

Climbing the Rigi mountain to remember the Assyrian, Armenian and Greek Genocide of 1915 July 22, 08

Christians from Iraq need our help July 22, 08

Iraq's Shabak Accuse Kurds of Killing Their Leader July 16, 08

Western Christians can ‘Save Iraq Christians July 16, 08

Iraq's Mosul Struggles to Shake Off Al Qaeda July 16, 08

Iraqi minorities' long wait for freedom July 16, 08

YouTube: Simo Parpola about Assyrians; and their present plight
July 12, 08

Iraq's Persecution of Christians Continues to Spiral out of Control
July 11, 08

Iraqi Christians Face New Persecution July 11, 08

Assyrians: A Minority Between Genocide and Fear of Terrorism July 3, 08

Iraq: Islamist group threatens churches in Mosul
July 3, 08

Khziran = June

A Difficult Place for Christians: Believers in Iraq June 27, 08

EU Countries Move to Stop Flood of Iraqi Refugees June 26, 08

For Iraqi Christians, Money Bought Survival June 26, 08

Second Mysterious Fire Destroys Catholic Church in Cairo June 25,08

Christians in the Middle East Live'As in a Cage' June 24, 08

Another Surge Needed: Support the Christians in Iraq June 24, 08

‘Little Baghdad’ thrives in Sweden Sodertalje has taken in more Iraqis than U.S., is but mood changing June 24, 08

Muslims Attack Christian Homes and Businesses in Cairo June 23, 08

Informal meeting of the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East June 22, 08

Conversations with the Assyrians of Mardin June 22, 08

IRAQ RELIGIOUS KILLINGS June 14, 08
By Hon. David Clarke, At the Parliament of New South Wales Australia

European Parliament Conference Highlights Assyrian Suffering in Iraq June 14, 08

Dora Today June 12, 08

“Why Arab countries need them ? ” June 12, 08

The Latest Islamic Suicide Attack June 11, 08

Egyptian Writer: It's 'Open Season' On Egypt's Christian Copts June 10, 08

Rosie Malek-Yonan Joins Cast of General Hospital June 09, 08

Assyrian woman gets heart surgery at Mercy Gilbert June 08, 08

30 minute film by German TV Channel about the plight of Iraq's Chrisitan Assyrans June 07, 08

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