Archbishop: Iraqi Christians face 'premeditated ethnic cleansing'
Posted By Max Strasser Monday, November 8, 2010 - 4:28 PM Share
Life in Iraq isn't easy (and hasn't been for a while), but it's still
rare to find community leaders imploring Iraqis to leave their home
country. But that's exactly what Archbishop Athanasios Dawood of the
Syriac Orthodox Church is doing.
"I say clearly and now -- the Christian people should leave their
beloved land of our ancestors and escape the premeditated ethnic
cleansing," Dawood said in a prepared statement to CNN. "This is
better than having them killed one by one." In other interviews,
Dawood, who lives in London, evoked the word "genocide" to describe
the treatment of Iraqi Christians.
Fifty-eight people were killed in an attack on an Iraqi church last Sunday.
With the exception of the massive exodus of Iraq's large Jewish
minority after the creation of Israel in 1948, there was little
sectarian violence in Iraq before the U.S. invasion in 2003.
"You know, everybody hates the Christian. Yes, during Saddam Hussein,
we were living in peace -- nobody attacked us. We had human rights, we
had protection from the government but now nobody protects us," the
archbishop told the BBC. "Since 2003, there has been no protection for
Christians. We've lost many people and they've bombed our homes, our
Eden Naby and Jamsheed K. Chosky wrote in Foreign Policy last week
that there may not be a Christian population left in Iraq by the end
of the century. Iran, which also has a (shrinking) Christian minority,
is suffering the same fate.
But it isn't only from those countries that Middle Eastern Christians
are leaving. Long-time Middle East journalist Robert Fisk pointed out
last month (before the massacre in Baghdad) that Christian populations
are shrinking across the region, from Palestine to Lebanon to Egypt.
"This is, however, not so much a flight of fear, more a chronicle of a
death foretold," Fisk writes. "Christians are being outbred by the
majority Muslim populations in their countries and they are almost
In Michigan, Iraqi Christians rallied today, calling on the United
States to put a stop to violence against their coreligionists.
The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has affected every aspect of
society in that country. As many people have written, the U.S.
government seems to have been wholly unprepared for what lay ahead in
Iraq. It's hard to imagine that George W. Bush, with his own deep
Christian faith, expected the catastrophe in store for Iraqi