24 Dec 2010

Christian exodus from Iraq

In Baghdad, as well as the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, Christmas services have been cancelled for fear of further violence. Church leaders said they would not put up Christmas decorations or celebrate midnight mass. They told families not to decorate their homes, for fear of attack after al-Qaida reiterated its threat to target Christians earlier this week.


"Now more than 80% of Christians are not going to the churches," said the head of Iraq's Christian Endowment group, Abdullah al-Noufali. "There is no more sunday school, no school for teaching Christianity. Yesterday we had a discussion about what we would do for Christmas. We took a decision just to do one mass. In years before we had many masses."

Iraq's Christian population has halved since the ousting of Saddam Hussein. But in the past two months, the rate of departure has soared. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees is reporting high numbers of registrations by Christians in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. And in Iraq's Kurdish north, the number of refugees is overwhelming. Christians have been arriving since the president of the Kurdish regional government, Massoud Barazani, offered them protection and refuge days after the massacre.

Full story on The Guardian

See more about Iraq's partition on opendemocracy.net and salon.com and U.S. Senate approves partition plan in Iraq on Chron