Unfortunately, I’m going to have to be a bit hit and run with these next few posts. Forgive me for copy-and-pasting but I’m burning all my candles at both ends these days. Deeper content will return.
Violence against Christians increased in 2010, with large numbers of believers killed and injured. There were a number of attacks on Christians in Mosul in the run-up to March’s elections, leading to an exodus of Christians to villages in the Nineveh plains. Attacks on church buildings and Christian institutions increased in the second half of the year. In October 2010, at least 58 Christians were killed and many were injured in a bomb attack on a church in Baghdad.
That the Iraqi government will be able to restore a situation of peace without limiting the church’s freedom. That believers displaced by the violence will find a place to go to and won’t have to flee Iraq. The need for trauma counselling is high among young people. Pray that children who have lost parents will receive the care they need and will grow strong in their faith in Jesus.”
–Open Doors International
“Iraq has had a troubled history since biblical times, and the conflict that began in 2003 has since deteriorated into sectarian violence. On August 31, 2010, President Barack Obama announced the end of major combat operations and the completion of the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops. By December 31, 2011, all U.S. military forces were scheduled to be withdrawn from the country. There are about 70 evangelical congregations in Iraq, but it is estimated that only half the pre-2003 Iraqi Christian community remains in the country today. Twenty-one of the 34 people groups in Iraq are unreached by the gospel.
Category: Restricted Nation Religion: Muslim 95.9%, Christian 1.6% Ideology: Islam Head of State: President Jalal Talabani
Iraq is a complex mix of severe persecution and increased freedom for believers and evangelism. It is on the U.S. Commission for Religious Freedom’s list of Countries of Particular Concern. To register with the government, a church must have 500 members and obtain approval from leaders of the Council of Iraqi Churches. Since 2003, Islamic extremists have targeted Christian leaders, churches and businesses. Because of this, many believers have fled the country.”
–Voice of the Martyrs
“Ninety-seven percent of the population is Muslim. The remaining 3 percent are Chaldeans (an eastern rite of the Catholic Church), Assyrians (Church of the East), Syriacs (Eastern Orthodox), Armenians (Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox), and Protestant Christians, as well as Yazidis, Sabean-Mandaeans, Baha’is, Shabaks, and Kaka’is (a small, syncretic religious group located in and around Kirkuk).”
“The constitution recognizes Islam as the official religion and states that no law may be enacted that contradicts the established provisions of Islam; it also states that no law may be enacted that contradicts principles of democracy or the rights and basic freedoms stipulated in the constitution. Moreover, the constitution guarantees freedom of thought, conscience, and religious belief and practice for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Although the government generally endorsed these rights, violence conducted by terrorists, extremists, and criminal gangs restricted the free exercise of religion and posed a significant threat to the country’s vulnerable religious minorities throughout the reporting period. Radical Islamic elements from outside the government exerted tremendous pressure on individuals and groups to conform to extremist interpretations of Islamic precepts. Sectarian violence, including attacks on religious leaders and religious places of worship, hampered the ability to practice religion freely.”
–US State Dept. International Religious Freedom Report 2010
“’Systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations continue in Iraq. Members of the country’s smallest religious minorities suffer from targeted violence, threats, and intimidation, against which the government does not provide effective protection. Perpetrators are rarely identified, investigated, or punished, creating a climate of impunity. The smallest minorities also experience a pattern of official discrimination, marginalization, and neglect, particularly in areas of northern Iraq over which the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) dispute control.’ The religious freedom situation in Iraq remains particularly grave for the country’s smallest, most vulnerable religious minorities, which include Chaldo-Assyrian and other Christians, Sabean Mandaeans, and Yazidis. The violence, forced displacement, discrimination, marginalization, and neglect suffered by members of these groups threaten these ancient communities’ very existence in Iraq. Although violence in the country has decreased overall, late 2010 saw a surge in attacks against Christians, resulting in a new wave of Christian displacement.”
–National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, quote from United States Commission on International Religious Freedoms