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    » 10/09/2008, 00.00

    IRAQ

    Islamic fundamentalists: "expel Christians from Mosul"



    Yesterday, a 38-year-old Chaldean was shot to death, but there could be a total of three victims. Men are driving around the city shouting slogans against the Christians, threatening more slaughter and violence. From the U.S. command, confirmation that Mosul has become the last stronghold of the al Qaeda militants.

    Mosul (AsiaNews) - Jalal Moussa, 38, is the latest victim in the campaign of hatred launched by Islamic fundamentalists against Christians in Mosul, the theater of an "endless martyrdom," to the silence of the media and the international community. Jalal, a Christian of the Chaldean rite, was shot to death in front of his home in the neighborhood of Noor, the same neighborhood where Fr. Ragheed Gani and three deacons were killed in 2007, and where Archbishop Paulo Farj Rahho was kidnapped. The kidnapping of the archbishop of Mosul at the end of February ended tragically two weeks later, when the archbishop's body was found in an abandoned lot outside of the city.

    AsiaNews sources reveal that "there could be two more victims," but at the moment there are no further details on their identity or the manner in which they were ambushed.

    There is no end to the bloodshed in Mosul: in less than a week, nine people have died because they were Christians. From the town in the province of Nineveh come dramatic appeals, pleading "that silence not fall" over the continuing slaughter. "A campaign is underway to drive the Christians out of the area," a source reveals to AsiaNews, "and yesterday, a car with a loudspeaker went around the streets in the neighborhood of Sukkar, ordering the Christians to leave." "Christians out of the city," the people on board were shouting, "otherwise you will be victims of more attacks."

    The persecution against the Christians could conceal political and economic motives, woven together with the confessional element at the basis of the violence committed on the part of the fundamentalist and jihadist Islamic world. Some of the victims in recent days were owners of stores and commercial activities in Mosul, a clear signal that the terrorists intend to wipe out the economic activity of Christians, forcing the population to leave. According to some witnesses, before shooting the terrorists accused the Christians of "wanting to create an enclave in Nineveh," and then proceeded with the execution in cold blood. Confirmation of how dangerous the city is, where gangs of terrorists connected to al Qaeda operate, also comes from the American military command: "Al Qaeda is trying to get a foothold in Iraq," reveals General Mark Hertling, commander of US troops in northern Iraq, "and Mosul is the base of operations that they have chosen for launching their attacks," with the infiltration of foreign militants from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen, and Pakistan, through the Syrian border.

    Most soul is also the place excluded from elections scheduled for January, and will hold a separate referendum that should determine destiny of the entire region, at the center of a struggle between the Kurdish and Arab communities. This is not an insignificant factor, if one considers the huge quantities of oil waiting to be tapped; the vote of the Christians could be decisive in tipping the balance to one side or the other.

    The project inherent to the "plain of Nineveh" - where the intention is allegedly to create an enclave in which the Christians of Iraq could find refuge - has been at the center of exploitation and polemics, and is opposed by the majority of the Iraqi Church; the enclave, in fact, could be transformed into a sort of ghetto for shutting up refugees fleeing from Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, and Basra. The danger is that this could become "a ghetto for Christians," as Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, described the project in 2007, "and a breeding ground for revolts, clashes, and social tensions, as is taking place today in Palestine." For this reason, the Church has always promoted "coexistence under the banner of peace and mutual respect," among populations that are "rooted by history and tradition in the Iraqi homeland."

    The violence in Mosul in recent weeks has driven an increasing number of people to leave the city. According to estimates by local Christians, "every week more than 20 families decide to flee." This exodus has "emptied entire neighborhoods" of Christians, "to the indifference of the media and of Western governments." (DS)

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    See also

    16/03/2009 IRAQ
    Iraq looks to future with "optimism." Economic crisis feared more than security
    Violence and lack of security are not the main cause of concern. 85% of Iraqis call the current situation "very good or quite good." Sources for AsiaNews confirm the reopening of shops and businesses. The country must promote economic alternatives to oil, like tourism and agriculture.

    27/10/2008 IRAQ - VATICAN
    Chaldean bishop: appeal for Mosul, emptied of Christians
    Urged by the appeal of Benedict XVI, Rabban Al Qas, bishop of Ammadiya and Erbil, asks prime minister al Maliki and the American forces to accept responsibility for the violence afflicting Christians, the result of an intolerant fundamentalism that has never been halted. A request to the Islamic world as well, that it condemn what is taking place in Mosul. Tomorrow in Erbil, a meeting of Chaldean bishops and of the Vatican nuncio.

    20/01/2009 PAKISTAN
    Pakistani Muslims attack church, torture Christians
    At the origin of the violence is a dispute over land acquired by a Catholic of the village, and the marriage between a Christian young man and a Muslim young woman. In spite of the charges, the local police have not yet arrested anyone.

    13/07/2009 IRAQ
    Car bomb against Mosul church as Mgr Warduni calls attacks in Baghdad premeditated
    In northern Iraq Our Lady of Fatima Church is hit; nearby Shia mosque is also damaged. Local sources warn of new attacks “against churches and monasteries”. A new Christian exodus is feared. For auxiliary bishop of Baghdad attacks were “organised”; he appeals for peace.

    09/08/2008 IRAQ
    Kurdish prime minister Barzani in Kirkuk to promote "peace and harmony"
    The head of the government of Kurdistan has met with religious leaders and political representatives of the city. Archbishop Sako says he hopes that peace may not be mere "talk", but may become the concrete element on which to "rebuild society". Tension eases after violence of recent weeks.



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