Sunday, October 19, 2008
Iraq's Christians "sacrificial lambs" as attacks mount
Displaced Christian children do their homework in a room in al-Saida monastery in Al-Qosh village, 45 km (28 miles) north of Mosul October 18, 2008. Christians have become targets of sectarian attacks. Such is the plight of some 1,500 Christian families who in the past two weeks have fled homes in Iraq's ethnically mixed, and stubbornly violent, city of Mosul. Picture taken October 18, 2008.
AL-QOSH, Iraq-A Christian family huddles in an austere room in a monastery in northern Iraq, their belongings piled up around them. It is now home, since members of their religious minority became targets of sectarian attacks.The father, an engineer who was so scared that he asked to keep his name and that of his family unidentified, rushed his wife and two daughters to the Chaldean Catholic al-Saida monastery at the foot of arid mountains in northern Iraq on October 9, a day after hearing that four fellow Christians were killed."The explosions continue. There is no safety," he says with his youngest daughter draped on his lap.Such is the plight of some 1,500 Christian families who in the past two weeks have fled homes in Iraq's ethnically mixed, and stubbornly violent, city of Mosul.U.S., U.N. and Iraqi officials have condemned the attacks, which some in Iraq believe could foreshadow renewed bloodshed even as violence drops sharply across the country.The exodus of close to half of Mosul's Christians shows the fragility of security gains, especially in areas where cultures, religions and ethnicities collide. It also raises the specter of violence ahead of provincial elections that could alter the power balance in strategic cities like Mosul.So far, no one has taken responsibility for the deaths of about 12 Christians this month, which were followed by death threats and property attacks that prompted thousands to flee.Christians whisper that they are targets of a systematic campaign against them. Some blame Islamic militants, while others quietly point a finger at Mosul's politically powerful Kurdish minority. Most are too frightened to go into details.
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As in the days of Noah...