Why Christians in Iraq won’t go back

There are more Biblical sites in Iraq than in any other nation other than Israel:  Eden (maybe), the Tigris & Euphrates rivers, Abraham’s home town of Ur, the city that Jonah evangelized Ninevah, Babylon, the place of the Hebrews’ exile.  And there have been Christians there since the days of the New Testament, with the Apostles Thomas and Thaddeus said to have evangelized the region.  The Assyrians have been Christian since the 1st century, the oldest continual Christian community in the world.

But the persecutions of Christians in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein–by Sunnis, Shi’ites, and now by ISIL–have been so horrible that Christians are leaving.  And they say they are not coming back.  After the jump, Human Rights Watch researcher Daniel Williams gives a chilling summary of what Iraqi Christians have been going through. [Read more...]

We are all Nazarenes

The Nazis painted a yellow Star of David on the homes of Jews to mark them for persecution.  Today the Islamic State in Iraq is painting an Arabic “n”–for Nazarene–on the homes of Christians for the same reason.  In a show of solidarity, Christians all across the world are adapting that letter, using it as a social media avatar or a logo.  Here is a popular version:

 

But read what Russell Moore says on this subject, after the jump, how all Christians, being in Christ, share His earthly home and are all Nazarenes. [Read more...]

Marked with an “N” for “Nazarene”

Some are saying a “Christian holocaust” may be on the verge of breaking out in Iraq.  Reportedly, the Islamic State/ISIS is painting an “N”–for “Nazarene”–on the homes of the Christians remaining in Mosul to mark them for whatever is going to come next.   Douglas Farrow is going to paint an “N” over his door in a show of solidarity. [Read more...]

Islamic State’s ultimatum for Christians

The Islamic State–formerly known as the ISIS insurgents in Iraq–gave Christians in Mosul an ultimatum.  Any who had not left by Saturday would have to either convert to Islam, submit to the dhimmi contract (the tax and set of restrictions on non-Muslims according to Islamic law), or be killed. [Read more...]

Christians slaughtered in church

Details from the al-Qaeda attack on Christians as they were worshipping in a Baghdad church:

The worshipers heard the first shots and explosions about 20 minutes after the beginning of Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Salvation Church.

Heads turned, the sermon stopped abruptly and the Rev. Wassem Sabeeh quietly began ushering parishioners into a fortified room in the rear of the church.

“We realized these explosions were close,” said Bassam Sami, 21, one of the survivors of the attack on a Baghdad church carried out by heavily armed suicide bombers that left at least 58 people dead. “Father Wassem started pushing people inside the room.”

Once they penetrated the church building, the silent assailants began executing people. “They were well trained,” Sami said. “They didn’t say anything. It was like someone had cut out their tongues.”

The carnage that unfolded during the next few hours outraged many in a city that has seen more than its share of bloodshed. The siege suggested that al-Qaeda in Iraq, the weakened Sunni insurgent group that asserted responsibility for the attack, remains capable of carrying out mass-casualty operations.

The target, an Assyrian Christian church in the upscale Karrada neighborhood, was highly unusual. The extremist group has in the past year directed its dwindling resources toward crippling symbols of the Shiite-led Iraqi government.

An Iraqi official said Monday that investigators had found at the scene three Yemeni and two Egyptian passports thought to have belonged to the suicide bombers. If confirmed, the finding would be alarming to U.S. and Iraqi officials because they say al-Qaeda in Iraq has struggled to recruit foreign fighters in recent years.

In a statement posted on the Internet early Monday, the Islamic State of Iraq, a front group for al-Qaeda in Iraq, asserted responsibility for the attack.

via Survivors describe deadly attack on Baghdad church.

Some of the members were taken hostage, some of whom were killed as Iraqi forces stormed the church.

Iraqi Christians erect statue of Jesus

How about this for a defiant, death-defying public confession of faith?

The Christians of northern Iraq have chosen to defy mounting attacks by extremists by erecting a statue of Jesus modelled on the giant Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.

The sculpture is only a tenth of the size of the 40-metre (130-foot) iconic statue that towers over the Brazilian city, but it has become a popular site for visitors in Hamdaniya, the north’s largest Christian town.

“The idea of the statue is not to say Christians were here in case we leave,” said Bashar Jarjees Habash, the city’s coordinator of Christian affairs. “But the idea of building the statue of Jesus opening his arms is to send a message of peace to everyone to say that we want to live in peace with all,” said the 48-year-old. “The people of this area have always tried to live in peace with everyone, even those who fight and threaten them.”

In February, Human Rights Watch called on Iraq’s government to do more to bolster security and protect Christians after a string of deadly attacks on the community ahead of last month’s elections.

“The statue might be small if we compare it with what Christians did for Iraq over hundreds of years. The statue is stone and can be removed at any time, but the history of Christians cannot be abolished,” said Habash. “We have a great history, we are very loyal to Iraq,” added the official charged by the church with preserving religious monuments.

The brick and plaster structure is in the middle of Hamdaniya, a city populated by 45,000 mostly Syriac Christians as well as a Kurdish Muslim community that makes up about 10 percent of the inhabitants.

Its construction was initiated and carried out by two local security guards who also have artistic skills. Using their bare hands, it was a labour of love. “With the help of 20 volunteers, we built the statue in less than a month and we spent about 150,000 dinars (128 dollars),” said one of them, Alaa Naser Matti. . . .

“We have chosen to make a Jesus with open arms because it means that the city has been placed under his protection and he wants to spread peace in Iraq,” said the 41-year-old.

via <a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jwOrnvOa-jzNyIWYTOzeVtrlu7ag">AFP: Iraq Christians defy threats to erect Rio-like Jesus statue.

Click the link to see the picture, which I couldn’t copy for some reason.


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