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Crisis Escalates For Christians in Iraq

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://au.christiantoday.com/article/crisis-escalates-for-christians-in-iraq/4685.htm Crisis Escalates For Christians in Iraq Posted: Saturday, 8 November
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 7, 2008
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      http://au.christiantoday.com/article/crisis-escalates-for-christians-in-iraq/4685.htm

      Crisis Escalates For Christians in Iraq
      Posted: Saturday, 8 November 2008, 3:35 (EST)

      Violence and persecution against minority groups
      in Iraq continues, including communities of
      Christians which have been in existence for over
      1500 years. The Assyrian Church of the East, as
      one of the Churches most affected, has mobilised
      itself worldwide to call attention to the crisis,
      and seek help where help can be found. Other
      Churches under extreme duress are the Syrian
      Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Chaldean.

      Prior to 2003, 4% of Iraq’s population was
      Christian. Yet 40% of Iraq’s 2.2 million refugees
      are Christian, which indicates the seriousness
      and disproportionate degree of violence and
      persecution to which Iraqi Christians are being
      exposed. “No one has been untouched by grief
      either by personal loss or to see their country
      torn apart by violence,” said Bishop Mar Meelis
      Zaia, Australian head of the Assyrian Church of
      the East. According to Church sources this exodus
      is the result of a campaign of violence, murder,
      terrorism, threats, and intimidation targeted at the Christian minority.

      Attacks have escalated since September, when the
      electoral law was changed to remove the system of
      quotas that ensured minority groups
      representation on provincial councils. The result
      of government investigations and the arrest of
      about 12 people in relation to the latest wave of attacks are being awaited.

      The international Assyrian Christian community is
      raising money to help. Local parishes are
      collecting money to help the Assyrian Church of
      the East Relief Organisation (ACERO) provide aid
      for people in the city of Mosul, where the recent
      escalation of attacks has been most severe. In
      the long run the hope of those fleeing the
      country is for a self-governing administrative region within Iraq.

      The National Council of Churches in Australia
      (NCCA) stands in solidarity with Iraqi
      Christians, and the Assyrian Church of the East
      which has been a member Church of the Council for
      many years. “We are distressed to hear of the
      suffering of Christians in Iraq, and the
      deliberate and targeted attacks which they are
      experiencing,” said the Revd John Henderson, the
      General Secretary of the NCCA. “We continue to
      ask the Australian government to take this
      situation into account in its consideration of
      support for Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan,
      resettlement plans for Iraqi refugees once the
      country finds peace, and support for repatriation when it is safe to return.”

      We urge the Australian Government to:
      • Increase the level of aid to Iraq’s internally
      displaced people and Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria, and;
      • Increase Australian refugee intake levels for the affected population.


      a statement from the National Council of Churches in Australia
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