Published: 00:00 GMT Daylight Time - Wednesday 29 April 2009
Three Iraqi Christians murdered as Islamic militants implement their threats to Iraq’s Christian community
Three Iraqi Christians were murdered last Sunday and two others were injured in two separate incidents in the city of Kirkuk. These attacks take place in a context of intense hostility to Christians from militant Islamists. The following has been posted on various websites:
The General Secretariat of the Adherent of Islam Brigade has decided to address the final warning to ... the infidel Christian Crusaders ... and order you to leave immediately, in masses and permanently from the Muslim countries. There is no place for you infidel Christians among the Muslim believers in Iraq from now on. Otherwise, our swords will be legalized over your neck.
The letter is part of a determined Islamist campaign to drive out the Christian community from Iraq. Although the Christians, as ethnic Assyrians, are the indigenous people of Iraq, Muslim extremists are trying to “cleanse” the country of their supposedly defiling presence. In the face of threats such as these, which are often followed through in violence and even murder, the Christian population has dwindled from 1.5 million in 1990 and today may number no more than 400,000.
In the killings on Sunday 26 April in Kirkuk, which lies about 150 miles north of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, a Christian man, Yussef Saba, was shot dead, and two of his close relatives were injured. In the other attack a Christian woman and her daughter-in-law were murdered in their home.
The manner of the killings suggests premeditated execution, intended to send a warning to Iraqi Christians and foster a climate of fear. They recall the violence of last October in Mosul, when thousands of Christians fled from their homes in the northern city of Mosul. Fearing a similar exodus from Kirkuk, church and government leaders have called on the Christian community to stand firm and not be intimidated. The vice-president of Iraq has called upon Christians “not to leave the country” and has requested the international community to give “help and protection” against the militants.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid, said, “The murder of three Christians in Kirkuk proves once again that Islamist militants are quite capable of carrying out their threats against the Christian community. The forthcoming withdrawal of American troops from the country is likely to make the churches’ position even more perilous. They need our support to sustain them in their time of need.”
Aid from Barnabas Aid helps to provide mobile medical clinics in Iraq
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For previous articles see Save Iraqi Christians Campaign page.
* Pray for the Christians of Iraq, that the Lord may protect them from further acts of violence. Pray for the families and churches of the three people killed, and for those recovering from their injuries.
* Pray for the Iraqi authorities, that they may bring those responsible for the murders to justice, and have wisdom to restrain the advance of militant Islamism in the country. Pray that they may safeguard the security and freedoms of Iraqi Christians.