10/13/2008, 00.00
IRAQ
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Arab media “discover” the persecution of Christians in Mosul as another Christian is killed

Another store owner is killed. Pope’s words are echoed in Arab newspapers as the city’s archbishop, Mgr Louis Sako, slams the attacks. Some claim that Iraqi Christians are no more in danger than the average Iraqis. Others insist that all Iraqis have a duty to protect Christians.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – Mosul’s Christian community experienced another attack yesterday. A store owner in this northern Iraqi city was targeted in what seems to be a strategy to drive out the entire community. Oarkis Alton, a records seller, was killed at work. His cousin was also wounded in the attack which took place despite an increased police presence around churches and in Christian neighbourhoods. A corollary of all this is the increasing attention paid by Arab media both within and without Iraq to the problem.

Today Arab media have in fact zeroed in on what is happening to Christians in Mosul. Many newspapers have also reported the “alarm and great suffering” expressed yesterday by Benedict XVI for the persecution endured by Christians in the country.

“Attacks in the Iraqi city of Mosul have forced hundreds of Christian families from their homes in just the past week,” al-Jazeera reported, quoting Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula, governor of the northern Ninawa province.

The flight, the TV network noted, comes as Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako said Iraq's Christians were facing a campaign of “liquidation” like that in Baghdad, with its lot of abductions and murders.

A wave of religiously targeted killings has left at least 12 Christians dead over the past two weeks.

Many other media outlets like the Middle East Times focused on the commitment by Iraqi Prime Minister, who ordered an additional thousand agents to the city, to “take immediate action to resolve the problems and difficulties faced by Christians in Mosul.”

Maliki beefs up security in Mosul to protect Christians,” was TheDaily Star’s title, whereas al-Bawaba referred to “an upswing in attacks against Christians in Mosul [that] has forced 500 families to flee in the last week and seek shelter at churches, monasteries and relatives' homes.”

Lebanese French-language daily L’Orient Le Jour reported that some 5,000 Christians have been forced to abandon their homes, noting that an estimated 250,000 (out of 800,000) have already fled Iraq altogether. 

Under the pen of its chief editorial writer Tariq Alhomayed, pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawsatt told its readers that “We Must Protect Iraq's Christians.” For him “there seems to be an organized campaign targeting the Christian population of Iraq”. What is more, whilst “al-Qaeda continues to torture Christians it is important to note that a Shiite collation of MPs has already rejected a draft law which protects the Christian minority,” i.e. Article 50 which deals with minority representation in provincial councils. “The new law,” he wrote, “was incomplete and disruptive giving only the minimum of political rights to the Iraqi minorities, like the Chaldean Christians.”

Ultimately he said that it “is the duty of all Iraqis and not just its government, to protect Iraqi Christians from murder and displacement, and all forms of oppression, particularly when taking into account that they have always been patriots and have never been apart of any alliance against their nation; moreover they have suffered more then any other Christian group in the Middle East.”

After citing Archbishop Sako , the Middle East Online tries to contradict him saying that a “report by Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights that sets out the number of deaths in different ethnic communities caused by direct or indirect attacks in Iraq between 2003 and the end of 2007 showed that only 172 fatalities were from Iraq’s Christians: 107 Chaldeans, 33 Orthodox, 24 Catholics, four Assyrians, three Anglicans and one Armenian,” adding that for some observers “Christians are no more threatened than average Iraqis.”

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