Of all the peoples desiring 'order out of chaos', surely the Christians of Iraq must be among those who need it the most. Somewhat uncharacteristically, The Independent today features an appeal for the Iraqi Christians from Mark Seddon, who pens a piece entitled, 'We may be witnessing a new age of Christian persecution'. Really!? You don't say!? I would think that that is what Aid to the Church in Need has been saying for quite some time now, but, hey, late is better than never!
Acknowledging that the persecution of Christians is not just confined to Iraq, Seddon writes...
'Before the toppling of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi Christian population numbered some one and half million. By and large, Saddam's Ba'athist government didn't discriminate against the country's minorities; indeed, Iraq's veteran Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz was the most visible of the country's Christians.
Today, barely 400,000 remain, with church leaders claiming that organised ethnic cleansing is taking place, unchallenged. Iraq's Christians have in the past been accused of collaborating with Britain and America, and while both Sunni and Shia political leaders say they want Iraq's Christians to remain, some church leaders are urging their remaining flock to abandon Iraq before it is too late and they are massacred.
If al-Qa'ida has its way, this ancient culture and people will soon be no more. In recent days, grenade and bomb attacks killed two more Christians and injured 18 more in Baghdad. Motorcyclists drove down streets, targeting Christian homes. Back in October, suicide bombers attacked the Church of Our Salvation in Baghdad, killing 58, before – and this was unreported at the time – grotesquely blowing themselves up, along with a child hostage, at the altar. In a statement afterwards, al-Qa'ida said: "Christians are a legitimate target."'
Our own beloved BBC, The Guardian and now The Independent are seemingly waking up to the idea that not only are Christians being openly attacked and persecuted on other shores by Islamic terrorists, but that it is not okay to do it and it is not a good thing, something the Holy Father has been highlighting for quite a while now. Today, His Holiness, condemning the bombing of a Coptic Church in Alexandria said, "This vile gesture of death, like that of putting bombs near to the houses of Christians in Iraq to force them to leave, offends God and all of humanity," the pope said after his weekly angelus blessing, noting that what is taking place amounts to "a strategy of violence that has Christians as a target."