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Christianity in Iraq threatened with extinction

St Disibod

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From the BBC (see here):

Vicar flees Baghdad after threats

Canon Andrew White, who ran Iraq's only Anglican church, left Baghdad amid fears for his safety.

Canon White left Baghdad after pamphlets dropped in Shia areas of the Iraqi capital reportedly branded the vicar as "no more than a spy".
Fears have been expressed that if current trends continue, the Christian community of Iraq will no longer exist by the end of the century. The Revd Temathaus Eisha of the Church of Saint Shimoni, says Christian Assyrian families are being forced to abandon their homes in the besieged Dora district of Baghdad. He says that there is a large-scale campaign to expel Christians unless they convert to Islam, that in recent weeks clergy have been assaulted and kidnapped, that the majority of churches there are now closed, and that the Chaldean Patriarchate has been forced to send many monks, priests and nuns into exile.

The forced exile of the last major Anglican figure from Baghdad must be seen as another milestone in the elimination of Christianity from Iraq. Canon White was regularly consulted by BBC Radio 4 as a reliable Western source on the ground. He was able to operate in parts of Baghdad where Western journalists would have risked kidnap. He had been working to secure the release of the five Britons kidnapped in May by Shia militias/the police. An instance Canon White’s rare insight is shown in this Times article:

[i said:
The Times[/i], 4th July 2007,] An al-Qaeda leader in Iraq boasted before last week’s failed bombings in London and Glasgow that his group was planning to attack British targets and that “those who cure you will kill you”, The Times has learnt.

The warning was delivered to Canon Andrew White, a senior British cleric working in Baghdad, and could be highly significant as the eight Muslims arrested in the wake of the failed plot are all members of the medical profession.

Canon White told The Times that he had passed the general warning, but not the specific words, to a senior official at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in mid-April. A Foreign Office spokesman said last night that it was forwarding the actual words to the Metropolitan Police.
A contrast to this further slip into total anarchy, however, is provided next door in Iran. The government in Tehran has approved a series of moves that will now see Bishop Azad Marshall installed as the diocesan bishop in Tehran in August and hopes are rising that the government will soon return 29 churches and church buildings confiscated after the Islamic revolution in 1979. In early May, Bishop Marshall and Bishop Riah Abu el-Assal of Jerusalem visited the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini. Anglican priests have been given permission to work in Tehran and Isfahan, and Bishop Marshall’s installation in St Paul’s, Tehran, will be the first installation of an Anglican bishop in Iran since 1979.

I think this just goes to show that diplomacy is a better tool than war in achieving our aims, even when dealing with the most obstructive regimes. I think the former Irish Times journalist put it very well this week when he was awarded an honorary degree in Queens: “War is not about good and evil. It is about death.” We're seeing the proof in Iraq, and the alternative in Iran.
 


Galvatron

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christianity in iraq threatened with extinction???

along with the iraqis themselves you mean..
 

johnfás

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Nor is Iraq the only country in the region where there is increasing pressure coming to bear on the small, but significant and ancient Christian communities.

The Maronite Christian population in Lebanon became a particular target of the IDF during the conflict which broke out last summer. Similarly Christians in the Palestinian territory have become increasingly targetted by the IDF. It's odd really given that Israel is to a large degree funded by American Christian fundamentalism.

There is an interesting article, though admittadly it is several years old here [urlhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/waronterror/story/0,,583124,00.html[/url].

The development highlighted in Iran is a very positive one for rights of freedom of association and religion. The sceptic in me questions is there a second motive, similar to that used through the legalisation of religious practise in China. However, I think Iran is probably slightly more sincere in its actions than that given the ancient traditions of Christianity in the region. The increasing dichotomy between Christianity and Islam in regard to the Middle East is terribly unfortunate given the role that many Christian Arabs played in the movements of Arab Nationalism and other independent movements in the region. This marks a welcome break.
 

Thac0man

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johnfás said:
The Maronite Christian population in Lebanon became a particular target of the IDF during the conflict which broke out last summer. Similarly Christians in the Palestinian territory have become increasingly targetted by the IDF. It's odd really given that Israel is to a large degree funded by American Christian fundamentalism.
And this is more important to Maronite and other Christian minorities than the ongoing bombing of their neighbourhoods, churches and political representation by Hezzbollah and pro Syrian factions? I doubt it, even assuming increaed IDF harassment is true.

johnfás said:
The development highlighted in Iran is a very positive one for rights of freedom of association and religion.
No. The tradition of tolerance in Iran predates the current regime. Beyond the extreme othodox views held by the Supreme Islamic council and Ayotollah in Iran, the actual elected government is even more extreme. This recent development has more to do with maintaining/building international pathways of communication as most diplomatic channels are restricted because of current sanctions. It has little to do with tolerance, which I believe does still exist in Iran, outside of its centres of power.
 

Edo

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johnfás said:
Nor is Iraq the only country in the region where there is increasing pressure coming to bear on the small, but significant and ancient Christian communities.

The Maronite Christian population in Lebanon became a particular target of the IDF during the conflict which broke out last summer. Similarly Christians in the Palestinian territory have become increasingly targetted by the IDF. It's odd really given that Israel is to a large degree funded by American Christian fundamentalism.

There is an interesting article, though admittadly it is several years old here [urlhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/waronterror/story/0,,583124,00.html[/url].

The development highlighted in Iran is a very positive one for rights of freedom of association and religion. The sceptic in me questions is there a second motive, similar to that used through the legalisation of religious practise in China. However, I think Iran is probably slightly more sincere in its actions than that given the ancient traditions of Christianity in the region. The increasing dichotomy between Christianity and Islam in regard to the Middle East is terribly unfortunate given the role that many Christian Arabs played in the movements of Arab Nationalism and other independent movements in the region. This marks a welcome break.
Are you sure about that JohnFas? - I was always under the impression that the Maronite/Armenian/Lebanese christian communities allied with the IDF against the Palestinians and Muslim lebanese in the Israeli invasions of the eighties

Was it not the Phalange - A christian army faction , armed and protected by the IDF, that carried out the massacres in Chabra and Chatilla refugee camps in 1983 ?

Just asking!
 

johnfás

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Edo said:
johnfás said:
Nor is Iraq the only country in the region where there is increasing pressure coming to bear on the small, but significant and ancient Christian communities.

The Maronite Christian population in Lebanon became a particular target of the IDF during the conflict which broke out last summer. Similarly Christians in the Palestinian territory have become increasingly targetted by the IDF. It's odd really given that Israel is to a large degree funded by American Christian fundamentalism.

There is an interesting article, though admittadly it is several years old here [urlhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/waronterror/story/0,,583124,00.html[/url].

The development highlighted in Iran is a very positive one for rights of freedom of association and religion. The sceptic in me questions is there a second motive, similar to that used through the legalisation of religious practise in China. However, I think Iran is probably slightly more sincere in its actions than that given the ancient traditions of Christianity in the region. The increasing dichotomy between Christianity and Islam in regard to the Middle East is terribly unfortunate given the role that many Christian Arabs played in the movements of Arab Nationalism and other independent movements in the region. This marks a welcome break.
Are you sure about that JohnFas? - I was always under the impression that the Maronite/Armenian/Lebanese christian communities allied with the IDF against the Palestinians and Muslim lebanese in the Israeli invasions of the eighties

Was it not the Phalange - A christian army faction , armed and protected by the IDF, that carried out the massacres in Chabra and Chatilla refugee camps in 1983 ?

Just asking!
QLAIAH, Lebanon: Ever since a truce between Israel and Hizbollah took hold this week, Boulos Abu Hamad and his family have been cleaning up the damage they say was left by Israeli troops who occupied their home for a night.

Their properties have only been moderately affected compared to the devastation of nearby Shi’ite Muslim towns, but residents of some Christian areas in southern Lebanon are just as angry with the Israelis.

“We are Maronite Christians. We are neither with Israel nor with Hizbollah nor with any other party so why did they do this to us?” said Abu Hamad’s wife, breaking into tears.

“Their troops came and ruined the bedroom furniture. We threw out the clothes I bought for my sister’s wedding because they ruined them and sacked the drawers and cupboards. They left nothing intact. Even their dogs left mess in the house.”

Many Lebanese Christians, Sunni Muslims and Druze have criticised Hizbollah for touching off the war by capturing two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12.

But they are also furious with Israel’s devastating response, which killed at least 1,100 people in Lebanon. One hundred and fifty-seven Israelis were killed in the conflict.

When Israeli troops invaded Lebanon last week and occupied the Christian villages of Marjayoun and Qlaiah — once home to the defunct pro-Israeli South Lebanon Army militia — they went from house to house, locals say, hammering down doors, breaking glass and trashing the contents for no reason they could fathom.
 

johnfás

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Of course Lebanon came into existence in the first place as an attempt to create a Christian dominated state. I'm not talking about history here.
 

Citizen

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George Bush and his neo-con friends can add to their CV the destruction of Iraq's 2000 year old Christian community.

Which was foreseeable.

Which is why the Pope tried hard to avert the 2003 invasion.

The Christians were safe, relatively, under the Saddam regime. Tariq Aziz being their highest ranking politico.

The Bible belt as mediated by Perle, Wolfowitz and Cheney remakes history in its own image.

And our own history will record that Ireland's own Bertie and Biffo had bit parts.
 

Thac0man

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To be fair Johnfas, your quote hardly points to a concerted political or military effort to attack minority Christian communities in Lebanon.

johnfás said:
Their properties have only been moderately affected compared to the devastation of nearby Shi’ite Muslim towns, but residents of some Christian areas in southern Lebanon are just as angry with the Israelis.

“We are Maronite Christians. We are neither with Israel nor with Hizbollah nor with any other party so why did they do this to us?” said Abu Hamad’s wife, breaking into tears.

“Their troops came and ruined the bedroom furniture. We threw out the clothes I bought for my sister’s wedding because they ruined them and sacked the drawers and cupboards. They left nothing intact. Even their dogs left mess in the house.”
If the IDF have developeed hi-Tec weapons to destroy Christian bedroom furniture, or train their dogs to drop a smelly one on command in Christian houses, then you might be on to something. Otherwise..... no.
 

Thac0man

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Citizen said:
George Bush and his neo-con friends can add to their CV the destruction of Iraq's 2000 year old Christian community.

Which was foreseeable.
And you have a pre-war quote to support this claim?
 

Thac0man

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johnfás said:
Of course Lebanon came into existence in the first place as an attempt to create a Christian dominated state. I'm not talking about history here.
You can support that with an actual historical referance? (as opposed to a revisionist one). I doubt it. Lebanon came into existance as a result of the retreat of the Ottoman Empire. Thereafter, the remaining competing factions and some new ones (PLO etc) fought it out.
 

Citizen

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Thac0man said:
Citizen said:
George Bush and his neo-con friends can add to their CV the destruction of Iraq's 2000 year old Christian community.

Which was foreseeable.


And you have a pre-war quote to support this claim?
Read the next line in my post Thac0man. Then for more you can review the extensive material about the Pope's efforts in 2002/2003.
 

Thac0man

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Citizen said:
Read the next line in my post Thac0man. Then for more you can review the extensive material about the Pope's efforts in 2002/2003.
Or you could post up a link to material theat supports your claim. You make the claim, then you verify it if challanged on its validity or truth or retract it if you can't - thats how it goes. People who read you post wil dismiss it rather than feel obliged to verify it, especially if you won't.
 

Edo

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Thac0man said:
johnfás said:
Of course Lebanon came into existence in the first place as an attempt to create a Christian dominated state. I'm not talking about history here.
You can support that with an actual historical referance? (as opposed to a revisionist one). I doubt it. Lebanon came into existance as a result of the retreat of the Ottoman Empire. Thereafter, the remaining competing factions and some new ones (PLO etc) fought it out.
Actually he has a point here - The modern state of Lebanon was created by the French during the Mandate after WWI - in typical french colonial style of divide and rule - Lebanon was carved away from the rest of Syria as the French knew by creating a state with a Christian majority they would have a buffer state over which they could exercise influence - the rest of Syria they knew they were going to lose. Also the French had long had influence in this area of the Levant as they became "protectors" of the Maronites during the long slow death of the Ottoman empire during the early 19th century.

This is in every history written of the region - no revisionism needed

PS - did the "mandate era in the middle east" as part of my finals in Uni many moons ago - can dig up sources if required - Fisk's Pity the Nation is pretty comprehensive in relating the modern troubles back to the mandate.
 
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Thac0man said:
Citizen said:
Read the next line in my post Thac0man. Then for more you can review the extensive material about the Pope's efforts in 2002/2003.
Or you could post up a link to material theat supports your claim. You make the claim, then you verify it if challanged on its validity or truth or retract it if you can't - thats how it goes. People who read you post wil dismiss it rather than feel obliged to verify it, especially if you won't.
lazy ;)
 

johnfás

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Thac0man said:
johnfás said:
Of course Lebanon came into existence in the first place as an attempt to create a Christian dominated state. I'm not talking about history here.
You can support that with an actual historical referance? (as opposed to a revisionist one). I doubt it. Lebanon came into existance as a result of the retreat of the Ottoman Empire. Thereafter, the remaining competing factions and some new ones (PLO etc) fought it out.
The modern state of Lebanon grew out of the French Mandate of Greater Syria established in 1920.
 

Thac0man

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johnfás said:
The modern state of Lebanon grew out of the French Mandate of Greater Syria established in 1920.
You were talking about the origins of the Civil war, not the origin of the state itself. Don't move the goal posts.
 

Citizen

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Let's see if we can shorten this for you.

Saddam was a master at playing differing factions off against each other. He had to be in order to survive. Though secular in political terms he came from the Sunni tradition. The Sunni as you know had and still have no more than a minority in Iraq relative to the Shia tradition.

To stay in power he applied the lesson of his predecessors in government the British by bringing the small but significant Chaldean Christians inside the tent - as witness the position held by Tariq Aziz.

Given the conditions of uncontrolled post-invasion chaos the Shia were bound to have their revenge on Sunni and Christian oppressors.

People can believe that was foreseeable or not. What is your opinion?
 

Thac0man

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Citizen said:
People can believe that was foreseeable or not. What is your opinion?
Foresight is an amazing thing, but requires equally amazing faith if it remains without clear pre-war referances. Othewise it is hindsight, and thats not so amazing.
 


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