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    » 01/12/2010, 00.00

    IRAQ

    Mosul: Christian merchant killed as "ethnic cleansing" continues



    A 75-year-old greengrocer is shot dead in front of his house. The abduction of a Christian female student is still shrouded in mystery. A wave of violence that includes attacks against churches, abductions and targeted killings of Christians is trying to force them into a mass exodus.
    Mosul (AsiaNews) – Mosul's Christian community has been the victim of another targeted killing. Hikmat Sleiman, a 75-year-old greengrocer, was killed yesterday. His death follows a wave of violence against Iraqi Christians that included a number of attacks over the past few weeks against churches and convents as well as abductions and execution-style murders. Local bishops have slammed the trend, calling it a plan of "ethnic cleansing" at Christians' expense.

    The store owner "was assassinated in front of his house," sources in Mosul told AsiaNews. “Hikmat Sleiman, 75, owned a small greengrocery across from the Dominican convent in Sa'a neighbourhood, said the source who preferred to remain anonymous for security reasons.

    "After closing his store, he went home. A group of criminals was waiting for him and opened fire," he added. The victim died instantly.

    Yesterday's murder is further evidence that Iraqi Christians are the victims of a plan of "ethnic cleansing" designed to force them to leave the country. The central government and the local governatorate are powerless against such attacks as the various ethnic groups, Arab, Kurdish, Turkmen as well as extremist cells, blame each other.

    On 23 December of last year, the Church of Saint George of the Chaldeans and the Syro-Orthodox Church of Saint Thomas were hit in separate attacks. Three people were killed in the first attack. On Christmas Eve, a man was killed in front of his house, whilst on 31 December an Islamic group abducted a Christian female student whose fate is still unknown. Two days later, on 2 January, a local Christian man was also abducted.

    Back in December, four churches and the convent of the Dominican nuns were attacked in Mosul. The explosions caused by car bombs and other explosive devices caused major damage to the surrounding buildings and homes. Many homes belonging to Christians as well as Muslims were destroyed.

    After the attacks, a Christian source in the city sounded the alarm, saying "the community is destined to day". Indeed in Mosul, many believe that the attacks are mafia-style "warnings" designed to provoke a mass exodus of the community.

    "Families fled north, in Kurdistan, where they have no work or life prospects. The Christian community is destined to die," the source said.

    Since 2003, the year when Saddam Hussein fell, at least 1,960 Christians have been killed in Iraq. The community has been cut by half as Christians fled for safer areas inside the country (Kurdistan) or abroad. (DS)

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    See also

    02/08/2011 IRAQ
    Christians “sad and in shock,” Mgr Sako says after car bomb explodes at Kirkuk church, wounding 15
    The bomb causes major damages to Syro-Catholic church. Children and clergymen are among the wounded. A second car bomb set to go off near an Evangelical church is defused. A “sacred place” and “innocent people” were targeted, Kirkuk archbishop says.

    06/10/2006 IRAQ
    Terror campaign targets Chaldean church in Iraq

    There were two new attacks against the parish of the Holy Spirit in Mosul in as many days. A convent of Dominican Sisters has also been struck. These are the most blatant signs of a campaign that aims to throw Christians out of Iraq. Then there is the problem of emigration, a problem afflicting also Shiites and Sunnis.



    02/12/2006 IRAQ
    Theology courses for lay people in Mosul resume despite violence

    Notwithstanding prevalent insecurity, theology courses of lay people of the diocese resumed this year. Courses will also be held in a nearby Christian village.



    07/08/2006 IRAQ
    First communion in Mosul, where shots became "fireworks"

    The Chaldean parish priest of the Church of the Holy Spirit talks about the celebration of the first Holy Communion of 80 children while the city was struck by car bombs and shooting. "United, we pray for peace in Iraq and also in Lebanon and the rest of the world."



    07/09/2009 IRAQ
    Mosul: more kidnappings and murders of Christians, to force them to the plain of Nineveh
    A 60 year-old businessman killed, his kidnappers had demanded an enormous ransom. Another faithful of Mosul kidnapped; the fate of the doctor who was kidnapped in Kirkuk remains shrouded in mystery, AsiaNews sources: the violence disguises a political project to drive Christians out the city and force them to the plain of Nineveh.



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