Instead of creating a free Iraq that will inspire non-observant Muslims in other Islamic countries to fight for their own Liberty, we are supplying American blood and treasure to expand Shari'ah. Rather than enable a greater Iran, we ought to be aiding fellow Christians and other non-Muslims suffering under the tyranny of Allah.
More on the tolerance of Islam from International Christian Concern:
ANCIENT COMMUNITIES PERSECUTED
's Christians at risk of annihilation Iraq
By CHARLES TANNOCK
-- The world is consumed by fears that
is degenerating into a civil war between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. But in this looming war of all against all, it is Iraq 's small community of Assyrian Christians that is at risk of annihilation. Iraq
Iraq's Christian communities are among the world's most ancient, practicing their faith in Mesopotamiaalmost since the time of Jesus Christ. The Assyrian Apostolic Church, for instance, traces its foundation back to 34 A.D. and St.Peter. Likewise, the Assyrian Churchof the East dates to 33 A.D. and . The Aramaic that many of St. Thomas 's Christians still speak is the language of those apostles -- and of Christ. Iraq
When tolerated by their Muslim rulers, Assyrian Christians contributed much to the societies in which they lived. Their scholars helped usher in the "Golden Age" of the Arab world by translating important works into Arabic from Greek and Syriac. But in recent times, toleration has scarcely existed.
In the Armenian Genocide of 1914-1918, 750,000 Assyrians -- roughly two-thirds of their number at the time -- were massacred by the Ottoman Turks with the help of the Kurds.
Under the Iraqi Hashemite monarchy, the Assyrians faced persecution for co-operating with the British during World War I. Many fled to the West, among them the Church's patriarch. During former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's wars with the Kurds, hundreds of Assyrian villages were destroyed, their inhabitants rendered homeless, and dozens of ancient churches were bombed. The teaching of the Syriac language was prohibited and Assyrians were forced to give their children Arabic names in an effort to undermine their Christian identity. Those who wished to hold government jobs had to declare Arab ethnicity.
In 1987, the Iraqi census listed 1.4 million Christians. Today, only about 600,000 to 800,000 remain in the country, most on the
As many as 60,000, and perhaps even more, have fled since the beginning of the insurgency that followed the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Their exodus accelerated in August 2004, after the start of the terrorist bombing campaign against Christian churches by Islamists who accuse them of collaboration with the allies by virtue of their faith.
A recent U.N. report states that religious minorities in
"have become the regular victims of discrimination, harassment, and, at times, persecution, with incidents ranging from intimidation to murder," and that "members of the Christian minority appear to be particularly targeted." Iraq
Indeed, there are widespread reports of Christians fleeing the country as a result of threats being made to their women for not adhering to strict Islamic dress codes. Christian women are said to have had acid thrown in their faces. Some have been killed for wearing jeans or not wearing the veil.
This type of violence is particularly acute in the area around
. High-ranking clergy there claim that priests in Mosul can no longer wear their clerical robes in public for fear of being attacked by Islamists. Last January, coordinated car-bomb attacks were carried out on six churches in Iraq Baghdadand Kirkuk; on another occasion, six churches were simultaneously bombed in Baghdadand . Over the past two years, 27 Assyrian churches have reportedly been attacked for the sole reason that they were Christian places of worship. Mosul
These attacks go beyond targeting physical manifestations of the faith. Christian-owned small businesses, particularly those selling alcohol, have been attacked, and many shopkeepers murdered. The director of the Iraqi Museum, Donny George, a respected Assyrian, says that he was forced to flee Iraq to Syria in fear of his life, and that Islamic fundamentalists obstructed all of his work that was not focused on Islamic artifacts.
Assyrian leaders also complain of deliberate discrimination in the January 2005 elections. In some cases, they claim, ballot boxes did not arrive in Assyrian towns and villages, voting officials failed to show up, or ballot boxes were stolen. They also cite the intimidating presence of Kurdish militia and secret police near polling stations. Recently, however, there are signs the Iraqi Kurdish authorities are being more protective of their Christian communities.
Sadly, the plight of
Iraq's Christians is not an isolated one in the Middle East. In , the population as a whole has nearly doubled since the 1979 revolution; but, under a hostile regime, the number of Christians in the country has fallen from roughly 300,000 to 100,000. In 1948, Christians accounted for roughly 20 percent of the population of what was then Iran ; since then, their numbers have roughly halved. In Palestine , emigration among Coptic Christians is disproportionately high; many convert to Islam under pressure, and over the past few years violence perpetrated against the Christian community has taken many lives. Egypt
The persecution of these ancient and unique Christian communities, in
Iraqand in the Middle Eastas a whole, is deeply disturbing. Last April, the European Parliament voted virtually unanimously for the Assyrians to be allowed to establish (on the basis of section 5 of the Iraqi Constitution) a federal region where they can be free from outside interference to practice their own way of life. It is high time now that the West paid more attention, and took forceful action to secure the future of 's embattled Christians. Iraq