venerdì, luglio 13, 2012

 

Violence forces Iraqi Christians to leave Mosul

By Business Recorder, 17/13/2012
by Sahar Badran

Violence remains a fact of life in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, nine years after US forces deposed Saddam Hussein. While all sects have fallen victim to relentless bombing and shooting attacsk, members of the city's once-numerous Christian community say they are being singled out.Two waves of killings and intimidation in 2008 and 2010 sent Christians fleeing from Mosul in such haste that the United Nations had to arrange emergency assistance. Umm Ishwa, 50, abandoned the city for a safer village even earlier, and has stayed there since.
"We left Mosul when my son, a doctor, was assassinated near his clinic in 2006," she told dpa. (
Deutsche Presse-Agentur) Mosul, 400 kilometres north of the capital Baghdad, remains one of the most violent places in Iraq despite a government security campaign. The authorities admit they still have much to do.
"Attacks targeting Christians in the city are still continuing, in addition to daily violence," says General Ahmad Mohammed al-Jabouri, director general of the Mosul police. "And that is despite the security measures that have been taken, which include deploying all kinds of security as well as a special intelligence effort."

"Between 2005 and 2011," al-Jabouri explained, "our operational command recorded the assassination of some 69 Christians, including university students, priests, female employees and housewives. The last attack targeting Christians was in March 2012 when armed men killed a Christian man, his wife and injured a four-year-old child.
We are working to bring about a quiet life for the Christians," he adds.
Some 25,000 Christians lived in Mosul, which with a total population of almost 2 million is Iraq's second-largest city. Many more live in the surrounding Nineveh province.

The United Nations says 12,000 fled Mosul in 2008, some of whom have since returned, and another 5,000 left in 2010. About 70 per cent of the city's Christians belong to the Chaldean Church, a Catholic group that follows Assyrian rites.

Christianity is deeply rooted in the area, where it spread among the Assyrians as early as the first century AD. Monasteries dating to the fourth century stud the countryside around Mosul.

But after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent violence, many Christians fled to neighbouring Syria - until last year, a safe refuge - or to villages outside the city.

Maha Qureiqoz, head of the Hope Association for Christians' Rights in Bartala, east of Mosul, says the future is bleak for Iraq's Christians. "We are worried about the continued flight of Christian families from Mosul."

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