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Friday, 12 November 2010

Continued Attacks Target Iraqi Christians

BAGHDAD, Iraq, NOV. 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Further anti-Christian attacks on Tuesday and Wednesday have closely followed the Oct. 31 massacre that killed 58 in Baghdad's Syrian Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation.

Bombs went off at three Christian homes on Tuesday evening, and mortar bombs exploded Wednesday throughout Christian neighborhoods such as Dora, in southern Baghdad, Aid to the Church in Need reported.

Vatican Radio reported Wednesday that at least six are dead. Some 26 were injured, including a four-month-old baby. Another Church was damaged.

Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, said that the terrorists "are hunting Christians of all the neighborhoods of Baghdad."

The Islamic State of Iraq, a group associated with Al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Aid to the Church in Need reported.

Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil told the aid agency: "Al Qaeda said churches and Christians would be a target. This is proof that they are serious and that they mean what they say."

One of the attacks specifically targeted the family of a victim of the Oct. 31 massacre, noted the Iraqi Christian news service Ankawa, which stated that the terrorists identified the house by the funeral signs hanging outside the home.

"The people are suffering so much fear," Archbishop Warda said. "There is anger and distress and they don't know where to turn."

The prelate asserted, "Pressure needs to be put on the government to provide adequate protection for Christians."

He added, "What we are faced with here is not just a failure of security but a deliberate targeting of Christians."

Exodus

Vatican Radio noted that outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited the Syrian Catholic cathedral of Baghdad on Tuesday and exhorted Christians not to leave the country. "We will do everything possible for the Iraqi community to remain complete and united," he said.

Archbishop Warda noted that Christians had just begun to return to Baghdad, after fleeing previous violence, settling especially in the Dora district. He said that the number of Catholic churches and religious houses in that neighborhood earned it the nickname "The Vatican of Iraq."

Archbishop Atanase Matti Shaba Matoka, Syrian Catholic archbishop of Baghdad, said to Fides: "A deep sadness envelops our community.

"The wave of attacks is increasing. Ten days ago, the carnage in our cathedral. Today, they've come to our doorstep. The families are mourning. Everyone wants to escape. It is a terrib le thing."

He added, "What can we do, what can we say?"

The archbishop continued: "Despite the proclamations, the government does nothing to stop this wave of violence that overwhelms us. There are policemen in front of the churches, but now the homes of our faithful are being attacked."

"Christian families have been affected: Chaldeans, Syriac Catholics, Assyrians, and other denominations in the district of Dora," he said. "Terror knocks at our doors. Families are upset. This is no life, they say."

The prelate said: "They want to drive us out and they are succeeding. The country is in the throes of destruction and terrorism.

"The suffering of Christians increases and they want to leave the country. We are left speechless."

Hope and prayer

Archbishop Matoka concluded: "We plea for prompt action from the international community and beseec h the Holy Father and the universal Church to come to our aid.

"Today we cannot help but hope and pray, entrusting our lives in God's hands. Iraqi Christians, amidst their tears, cry out: 'In manus tuas, Domine.'"

According to Vatican Radio, the attacks and aggressions are taking place because of the lack of an adequate security framework.

Monsignor Philip Najim, apostolic visitor for Chaldean Catholics in Europe stated: "No doubt the terrorists want to demonstrate to the whole world that there is a political vacuum in Iraq and that there is no national identity in the country.

"They want to demonstrate that today Iraq is incapable, with this political leadership, of creating a government that feels responsible for the people, that feels the responsibility to educate and to ensure a normal life to the people."

The interlocutor of Vatican Radio denied that there is a conflict between Christians and Muslims: "Christians and Muslims have always lived together and together they have built the future of the country.

"The terrorists also try to create this fear, through the media and fuel an unstable situation to demonstrate the weakness of a country that has lost a level of security for all its citizens."

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