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Mass commemorates Christians murdered in Iraq

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  • Chev. Thomas Daniel
    Mass commemorates Christians murdered in Iraq Iraqi Christians exiled in the UK held a mass on Saturday to commemorate relatives and friends murdered because
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 25, 2008
      Mass commemorates Christians murdered in Iraq

      Iraqi Christians exiled in the UK held a mass on Saturday to
      commemorate relatives and friends murdered because of their faith in
      their homeland.

      Around 90 Iraqi exiles living across Britain attended the service to
      say prayers for lost loved ones and those still in Iraq.

      Led by Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod, the head of the Syrian
      Orthodox Church in the UK, the mass included prayers for Christians
      killed in recent attacks in Mosul, northern Iraq.

      The mass, in the Holy Family Church in Fairwater, Cardiff, also
      featured prayers for peace.

      Speaking before the mass, Archbishop Dawod urged the British
      government to help Christians in Iraq.

      "We wanted to show what is happening in Iraq and how people are
      suffering," he said. "We wanted to show people that we are here and
      that we are alive and to raise our voices. And we want to show the
      government in the UK that we need to get help for our people."

      During the mass, Archbishop Dawod said that thousands of Christians
      had left Mosul after being ordered to do so via loudspeakers.

      He said: "Some Christians were forcefully evicted from their homes
      and their homes were blown up in front of their eyes. Some had their
      sons killed.

      "They have succeeded in petrifying the innocent and peace-loving
      people, forcing them to flee."

      The organiser of the mass, Laith Khalaf, 59, the chairman of the
      Iraqi Christian Association in Wales, said: "There are relatives of
      people who have been killed living here. We would like the Iraqi and
      British government to come up with a solution for families.

      "Our aim today is just to help. They are our brothers and sisters and
      our families and we want to help them."

      Alen Mbunni fled Iraq and came to the UK four years ago with her
      sister Farjeri. She applied to stay in the UK to avoid persecution
      for being a Christian, but is still waiting to find out whether she
      will be granted asylum.

      Her Christian nephew was recently worshipping in a church in Mosul
      when it was blown up by a bomb. He suffered minor injuries from the
      shattered glass from the church windows.

      The 75-year-old, who lives in Cardiff, said: "I have relatives who
      have left Iraq to live in Syria and Jordan. They had to leave their
      homes and everything they own to go. They have young children and
      they are afraid.

      "Living conditions are very difficult. They can't get jobs and the
      cost of living is very high. We couldn't go back to Iraq. There's no
      home, no family and we are over 70."

      Karam Sawaf, 26, fled Iraq in 2005 after being kidnapped and shot
      near his home. He was in his third year of a computer science degree
      when he left. He is barred from working in the UK while he awaits a
      decision on his asylum claim, but is now studying accountancy at a
      college in London. He is also a deacon at his local church.

      He said: "Some Islamic militants came to my father's factory and said
      if he didn't close his shop they would kill or kidnap me. We paid
      them and they went away.

      "In February 2005 they came to my car and started shooting. I was in
      a coma and woke up in hospital. After that my father decided we
      should leave the country."

      Paediatrician Basam Fathoala, 52, fled Iraq to move to Cardiff with
      his GP wife Raiea nine years ago. The couple are desperately worried
      about Raiea's brother and sister, who are living in Baghdad.

      Mrs Fathoala said her brother and sister are not able to go outside
      their homes in Iraq. Her eyes filling with tears as she spoke, she
      said: "They are there with their children and they can't leave. They
      have to leave their houses in live in different places. I'm really,
      really scared for them. It's a critical situation."

      Her husband said: "We are here to support the Christian people in
      Iraq. So many people were forced to leave their homes and quite a few
      were killed there.

      "We want to raise our voice as something needs to be done. We can't
      leave the Iraqi people there suffering. They just want to live

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