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  • » 05/18/2007, 00.00

    IRAQ

    ‘Islamic’ prince collects taxes in Baghdad’s Christian neighbourhood



    The ‘Islamic State in Iraq” appoints imam Hatym al-Rizeq as head of the al-Dora neighbourhood. From a local mosque he is asking Christians to pay 250,000 dinars in protection money. Only in the last week 14 more families have fled the area. In the meantime, a powerless government remains silent.

    Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The ‘Islamic State in Iraq” has appointed its ‘prince’ in al-Dora, a historically Christian neighbourhood in Baghdad. The man, named Hatym Al Rizeq, can now rule an area that has been largely abandoned by its Christian residents, the Arabic language website Ankawa reported. However, this has not stopped  the ‘prince’ from using a local mosque, al-Noor (the light) Masjid, to demand Christians begin paying the infamous Jizya or protection tax.

    Set up in early 2006, the Islamic State in Iraq brought together al-Qaeda and six affiliated organisations. Since then it has engaged in an open campaign of persecution against the Christians of al-Dora.

    The few Christian families still in the neighbourhood are left with few choices: convert to Islam, pay the protection tax, escape or die. Just in the last week another 14 families chose to flee the area.

    Imam Hatym al-Rizeq has demanded Christians pay 250,000 dinars (around US$ 200) for the right to remain in their own homes, a sum equivalent to a month needs for a family of six in the capital.

    As more and more people flee Baghdad every day for the north, their stories bear witness to a broadening action by armed groups to cleanse the city of its Christian residents. With the work almost done in al-Dora, where most of the anti-Christian violence has taken place, they are now said to be moving into two western neighbourhoods: al-Baya’a and al-Thurat.

    Local residents complain about the government’s “indifference and deafening silence,” a government that in many places like al-Dora is absent and powerless.

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    See also

    15/06/2007 IRAQ
    Baghdad: more than a thousand Christian families forced to flee home
    Escape is the only alternative to the threats made by Islamic militias against those who refuse to convert, pay “taxes” or give a daughter in matrimony to a Muslim, this according to ‘Portes ouvertes’, an NGO dedicated to persecuted Churches.

    22/10/2008 IRAQ
    Chaldean bishop of Kirkuk: Christians being driven out of Mosul for political reasons
    The prelate launches an appeal, calling upon all to defend the minorities in Iraq, and the Christian minority, the target of many attacks, especially in Mosul. For the bishop, the Christians are victims of a political game connected to the upcoming elections, and to the project for a Christian enclave in the plain of Nineveh. An appeal to the Christians of the West as well, that they denounce every act of violence and to demonstrate solidarity and fellowship.

    18/01/2010 IRAQ
    Mosul, a Christian businessman killed as the faithful celebrate their new archbishop
    Cold-blooded execution of a 52-year-old Syrian Catholic, married and father of two daughters. Local sources complain: a new attack to push the Christians toward the plain of Nineveh. Yesterday, Msgr. Emil Shimoun Nona, the new archbishop of Mosul, made his entry into the diocese.

    30/12/2009 IRAQ
    Christian student kidnapped by Islamic group in Mosul
    The girl was abducted from the faculty of education. In the past, attacks have occurred against Christian university students because they wear make up or they refused to wear the veil. Attacks and kidnappings are a "warning" to force the mass exodus of Christians. Some people speak of "ethnic cleansing" on a religious basis.

    23/12/2009 IRAQ
    Mosul attacks on two Christian churches, three dead and several injured
    The Chaldean Church of St. George and Syriac Orthodox Church of St. Thomas hit. One bomb was hidden in a cart carrying vegetables. The explosion kills a Chaldean Christian and two Muslim. Archbishop of Kirkuk: "disturbing message" to two days before Christmas.



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