Thursday, 16 October 2008, 12:28 GMT
Iraqi Christians want actions, not words

Displaced Christians from Baghdad stand in front of a village church in Duhok province. They left Baghdad in 2006 and now live in Duhok. GLOBE PHOTO/Qassim Khidhir

By Qassim Khidhir
The Kurdish Globe

Secretary General of the Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party demands investigation.

Demanding more than words of condemnation, fleeing, prosecuted Christians seek protection and the safeguarding of their rights, families, and property.

Father Rafael Benjamin said that condemning the acts of forcing hundreds of Christian families to flee Mosul city is not enough. Iraqi officials and international communities must stop extremist aggressions against Christians.

"Up to this point, the Iraqi government has not found any solution to end the hostile acts against Iraqi Christians," said Father Benjamin, a priest in Ankawa town, which is a Christian town in the city of Erbil, Kurdistan Region's capital.

Romeo Hakkari, Secretary General of the Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party, a Christian party, visited the areas where the displaced Christian families are seeking refuge in the Christian-dominated towns and villages in Mosul to prepare a report about the reality of the situation.

Hakkari said that since last week in Mosul city, 14 Christians have been killed, around 1,400 families have been displaced, three Christian houses have been blown up, and many Christians have been wounded.

Hakkari believes that what has happened in Mosul since last week is a well-planned scenario to root out Christians in Mousl city.

He accused Islamic extremists and former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, but he demanded further investigation to discover who is responsible.

"Many of the Christian families received direct threats to leave Mosul, some indirectly through cell phones," said Hakkari, who said that even after the families left their homes, they were threatened that they better not think of returning.

At least 95 percent of the displaced Christian families are from east of Mosul and the rest are from west of Mosul.

"The displaced families told me that they want to go back to their homes and send their children to school," said Hakkari.

Salim Gorges and his family left their home east of Mosul three days ago, and are now living in his relatives' house in Ankawa town.

"We left Mosul while Iraqi police were watching us," Gorges told the Globe. He accused local police in Mosul of not doing anything to stop the violence against Christians. Gorges even believes that some of the policemen have a hand in displacing Christians.

Father Zaya Shaba, a priest in Shaqlawa town in Erbil province, strongly criticized those who blame Kurds for being behind the recent violence against Christians.

"In Kurdistan, the Kurdish government builds churches for us, while in middle Iraq and Mosul, extremists blow up our churches," said Father Shaba.

Father Shaba said threatening and displacing Christians is not something new. The Christians were killed and rooted out also in Baghdad and Basra.

On Wednesday, the Kurdistan government strongly condemned the current violence against Christians in Mosul.

"Kurdistan Parliament demands the Iraqi government protect Christians in Mosul and return the displaced Christian families to their homes," said Adnan Mufti, Kurdistan Parliament speaker.