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    » 12/15/2010, 00.00

    IRAQ

    "Walled" Churches and checkpoints. Christmas for Iraqi Christians



    After the escalation of anti-Christian violence, the government decides to erect concrete barriers three meters high around parishes. Bishop Warda: "Everyone is asking who will now be the next".

    Baghdad (AsiaNews) - To defend Christians from potential new attacks during the Christmas season three meter high concrete walls will be erected around the churches in Baghdad and Mosul. The access points to the parishes will be controlled by police equipped with scanners and metal detectors, according to reports by Catholic News Service. The barriers are the Iraqi government's response to escalating threats and violence against minority religious communities, increasingly the target of crime and Islamic terrorism.

    The Christmas celebrations will consist of masses and small parties within the boundaries of the parishes, but there is frustration among the faithful. "The sadness of the people is everywhere. Insecurity and uncertainty are everywhere. The question on everyone's lips is 'who is next?” Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar Warda told Aid to the Church in Need. "There's a certain desperation, but whatever happens, the faithful are determined to celebrate the Christmas liturgy at all costs”.

    Bishop Warda said the barriers and security measures make the faithful feel as if "they were entering a military camp. " In any case, the bishop welcomes the Government's initiative to ensure security during the important religious holiday.

    The massacre of 31 October at the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad killed 57 people and wounded dozens. At least two thousand Christian families have left the capital and Mosul for fear of new waves of sectarian violence.

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    See also

    20/07/2009 IRAQ
    Bishop of Baghdad: "Christians, do not be afraid", but the fear of a new exodus remains
    Bishop Shlemon Warduni emphasizes the "high participation of the faithful” in Sunday services, which took place without incident, but does not hide the risk of a "new exodus from the country." The prelate asks the central government for "guarantees of safety" and the Christian community "to pursue the value of unity”.

    29/11/2010 IRAQ
    Terrorists behind attack on Baghdad church arrested
    In the operation conducted by Iraqi security forces, new plans to target four buildings discovered. The 12 arrested have admitted their responsibility. But the news of the capture is no comfort to the Christian community, which continues to leave Baghdad.

    08/06/2007 IRAQ
    Kidnapped Chaldean Priest : No to the Niniveh plain ethnic project
    Opposition to the “Assyrian” ghetto to save Iraq’s persecuted Christians today finds a qualified representative: Fr. Saad Hanna Sirop, one of the first Chaldean priests to have been kidnapped in Baghdad, and for whose release Benedict XVI intervened. A victim of Iraq’s violent anti Christian persecution, he too views the idea of an ethnic-religious enclave as diametrically opposed to Iraq’s history and the purpose of evangelization. Moreover, Fr. Saad maintains that the project’s real aim is not protection of the Chaldean and Assyrian Christians, but to protect ambitious “personal and economic interests”.

    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.

    09/07/2009 IRAQ
    Attacks are isolated episodes to destabilise a country on its way to rebirth, Iraqi bishops say
    The situation is improving but ethnic and confessional divisions remain; they are an obstacle on the path of peace. Three attacks hit northern Iraq and the capital, killing 40 and wounding another 80. Tomorrow a group of 19 children will celebrate their first communion. The archbishop of Kirkuk calls on political leaders to show “political maturity” ahead of provincial elections.



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