By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
MOSUL, IRAQ (BosNewsLife)– Mosul is now one of the most violent cities in Iraq with Christians and other minorities singled out for attacks and thousands continue to flee from the troubled nation, a Christian group said Thursday, August 16.
The attacks against Christians in Mosul and all of Iraq amount to “religicide,” warned Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA, the American branch of the international Open Doors group.
“Christians in cities like Baghdad and Mosul are gripped by terrorism. They are fleeing in droves. Today it was reported that at least 20 people died in blasts and shootings across the country,” he added.
Before 2003, Mosul was home to 75,000 Christians with some 70 percent belonging to the Chaldean Church, while the rest were Syriac Orthodox and Catholic, according Open Doors estimates. “Now approximately 25,000 Christians live in Mosul, which has a population of 2 million. Many more Christians live in the surrounding Nineveh province,” the organization added in a statement.
Christians have left the Iraqi city since 2003 when U.S. forces deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The war triggered a wave of continuous violence in the second largest city in Iraq.
“With the spotlight currently on Syria, Nigeria and Afghanistan and the pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq last December, Iraq has been placed on the back-burner,” Moeller said. “But we as Christians in the West must continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Iraq, who face extinction if we don’t pray and advocate for them.”
He said that almost no day passes without someone being killed by bombs or bullets in what is the capital of Nineveh province.
Besides Christians, policemen, soldiers or officials working for the government have also been killed.
“In the midst of all this, it’s not difficult to find examples of growing hostility towards Christians” including in May when 20 families in Mosul received “threatening letters,” Open Doors said. The letters reportedly warned them to move out of Mosul or face possible violence or kidnapping.
A Mosul Christian was quoted as saying that “terrorists in Mosul visited four real estate agents, asking the names of Christians who recently sold their houses.” With this information, Open Doors said, “they know who has money and might be possible targets for kidnappings.”
One of the agents who refused to give information “to the terrorists was killed,” Open Doors said. Also in Mosul, the house of a Christian was set on fire, and the police dismantled a bomb placed in the car of another Christian, according to the well-informed group.
General Ahmed M. Aljaboury, director general of the Mosul police said in published remarks that between 2005 and 2011 his forces “recorded the assassination of about 69 Christians, including university students, priests, female employees and housewives.”
Two waves of reported killings and intimidation in 2008 and 2010 sent Christians fleeing from Mosul in such haste that the United Nations had to arrange emergency assistance. Thousands of Christians have fled to Turkey, Jordan, Europe and the United States.
Open Doors said that before the Gulf War in 1991 there were some 1 million Christians in Iraq, ranked Number nine on its 2012 World Watch List of the “worst persecutors of Christians.”
Yet, that number fell to some 750.000-850,000 in 2003, according to several Christian sources followed by BosNewsLife. Since then the numbers have “plummeted” claimed Open Doors, which estimates the number of Christians remaining in Iraq at 345,000. “However, the number decreases every month.”
Open Doors said that its role in Iraq includes distributing Bibles and Christian literature to churches and internally displaced people as well as supporting a project which translates literature, including the Bible, into the Kurdish languages.
It also provides training to church leaders, new Christians and leaders in trauma counseling, especially to children.
Christians in Iraq are among at least 100 million Christians who worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, “with millions more facing discrimination and alienation,” Open Doors added.
The organization says it supports and strengthens believers in the world’s most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance as well as “Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers.”