12/03/2010, 00.00
IRAQ
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Churches organise day of fasting on 9 December to remember the martyrs of Baghdad’s cathedral

Meeting in Erbil, Christian religious leaders decide to meet Christian lawmakers to figure out why fellow Christians are under attack. They also call on the Kurdish government to provide some 520 Christian refugee families with jobs and education.

Erbil (AsiaNews) – The Council of Christian Religious Leaders in Iraq has called on the faithful from all Churches to commemorate the martyrs of Baghdad’s Syriac-Orthodox Cathedral on 9 December.

On 31 October, al-Qaeda-linked terrorists stormed Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral in the Iraqi capital, as the liturgy was underway. Because of the attack and the subsequent gun battle between hostage takers and Iraqi security forces, 58 people were killed and more than 70 were wounded. Forty-six Christians, including women, children and two priests, were among the dead.

Christian religious leader met yesterday in Erbil, northern Iraq, to evaluate the situation and vet the problems their respective communities face in the wake of the violent attack in Baghdad, such a renewed flood of refugees towards the north.

In addition to the day of fasting, the religious leaders have decided to meet the leaders of political parties that have elected Christian members to discuss the motives behind these attacks and work out some solution. According to the religious leaders, the government has failed to provide the Christian community adequate protection.

Another issue tackled was the arrival in Kurdistan (northern Iraq) of more than 500 Christian families who are without housing, work or school for their children. Religious leaders want the Kurdish government to provide these families with jobs and an education.

On Wednesday, Christian leaders turned down an invitation to participate in a meeting in Erbil on “Coexistence and social tolerance” organised by the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights. By refusing to take part in the event, they wanted to tell the government that it has shown inadequate concern for the security of Christians.

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