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The Annihilation of Iraq’s Christian Minority

“Another wave of persecution will be the end of Christianity after 2,000 years” of it in Iraq, one Iraqi Christian leader recently declared.

In an interview earlier this month, Chaldean Archbishop Habib Nafali of Basra discussed how more than a decade of violent persecution has virtually annihilated Iraq’s Christian minority.  Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the Christian population has dropped from 1.5 million to about 250,000—an 85 percent reduction.  During those 15 years, Christians have been abducted, enslaved, raped, and/or slaughtered, sometimes by crucifixion; about one church or monastery has been destroyed every 40 or so days—meaning about 135 Christian houses of worship, said the archbishop.

While it is often assumed that the Islamic State was the source of the persecution, since that terror group’s retreat from Iraq, the situation for Christians has marginally improved.  As the archbishop said, Christians continue to suffer from “systematic violence” designed to “destroy their language, to break up their families and push them to leave Iraq.”

Why this is comes out clearly in the “World Watch List 2018” report, which ranks the fifty worst nations in which to be Christian.  According to it, Christians in Iraq—the eighth worst nation in the world in which to be Christian—are experiencing “extreme persecution,” and not just from “extremists.”

Although “Violent Religious Groups” (such as the Islamic State) are “Very Strongly” responsible, two other societal classes seldom associated with the persecution of Christians in Iraq are also “Very Strongly” responsible, says the report: 1) “Government officials at any level from local to national,” and 2) “Non-Christian religious leaders at any level from local to national.”  Additionally, three other societal groups—1) “Ethnic group leaders,” 2) “Normal citizens (people from the general public), including mobs,” and 3) “Political parties at any level from local to national”—are all “Strongly” responsible for the persecution of Christians in Iraq.  In other words, virtually everyone is involved.

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