Published: 00:00 GMT Daylight Time - Friday 29 September 2006
Three more attacks on Iraqi Churches in Baghdad and Mosul
The latest anti-Christian violence in Iraq saw a car bomb outside a cathedral in Baghdad which killed 2 and injured at least 17 others, and two attacks on a church in Mosul.
On the morning of Sunday 24th September a cathedral of the Ancient Church of the East suffered a double attack apparently designed to maximise casualties. Firstly there was a small explosion under the car of the church minister as worshippers were leaving the church. Shortly after this, a much larger car bomb exploded on the other side of the narrow street seemingly intended to target the crowd who had gathered to help with the casualties caused by the first attack. These two explosions resulted in two people being killed, one a security guard for the church and the other a child. There were also at least 17 injured, of whom 9 were members of the church. Two of these remain in a critical condition. The cathedral itself was badly damaged.
On the same day at 11.15 a.m. in Mosul a church was attacked when armed men fired around 80 shots. There was no service in progress at the time and no one was killed or injured. Some damage was done to the eastern part of the church building and some windows were broken. Christians courageously went to the church for an evening service later in the day. Two days later on Tuesday 26th September the same church was attacked with rockets and an explosive device detonated outside a door. There were no casualties.
The violence may be linked to the uproar in response to the Pope's speech on the 12th September which was followed by a bomb attack on a church in Basra in Iraq on Friday 15th September. [Link]
Terrorist groups in Iraq also made threats to Christians following the Pope's speech. [Link]
It should also be noted that the latest three attacks have fallen with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began last Sunday. Ramadan is often a time when Christians experience greater hostility from Muslims. Some Islamists in Iraq have called for more violence during Ramadan.
Largely unreported in the Western media, attacks on Christians in Iraq have been occurring frequently. As a small minority Iraqi Christians are very vulnerable. They do not have militias to protect them like other ethnic and religious groups in Iraq.
Barnabas Aid's International Director, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo commented,
"The attacks in Mosul and Baghdad came just days after an attack on a church in Basra. Whether in the north, the centre or the south of their country, Iraqi Christians are facing hostility and violence. This is an ongoing situation, made worse by the anti-Christian threats issued by some Islamist groups in Iraq after the Pope's speech on 12th September. For example Al-Qaeda in Iraq said, 'We will destroy the cross-then all that will be accepted will be conversion or the sword (death). May God enable us to slit their throats' The fact that we are now in Ramadan is also exacerbating the situation. We need to pray for the protection of Iraqi Christians, particularly on Fridays and Sundays, the two most dangerous days of the week for Christian minorities."
1. Pray for the families of those who have been killed and for those who were injured in this attack. Thank the Lord for the courage of the Iraqi Christians continuing to gather for worship despite these attacks.
2. Pray that both Muslim religious and political leaders in Iraq and also Western governments will work to protect Iraq's Christian minority.
3. That there will be no other attacks on Iraqi Christians, particularly today (Friday) and this coming Sunday.