A day among Baghdad's few Christians
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Iraqi Christians are regular targets of violence, kidnappings, murders, and church bombings by insurgents - both Sunni and Shia. They are accused of supporting the “Crusaders.”
Persecuted and murdered, Baghdad’s Christians live a hidden life. For five years, violence has been a daily event In the Karrada neighborhood, in the heart of the capital. The Babylon Chaldean Church was the only one to open its doors to our reporter.
With the street blocked, the church walls are their only protection, although even they could not prevent them from being attacked. Those who have stayed in the neighborhood come together at the church in the evenings, protected from danger.
Father Medhat has preached for this little parish for the past three years and observes with sadness, but not without hope, the fleeing of his followers.
“There are still a few families that have stayed, so I stay with them,” he said. “If I saw no one coming to mass anymore, there would be no reason to stay.”
In 2003, the parish was comprised of 1,200 families. Only 100 have not fled to Kurdistan or abroad. One of his parishioners has no moved. He is stubbornly optimistic. “This culture of violence, of massacre comes from elsewhere,” explained William Warda. “It’s not in Iraqi culture.”
Despite the violence, community solidarity has not completely disappeared, as another parishioner states.
“Of course I have Muslim friends in the neighborhood. Here, Muslims have helped us – to protect the church, for example,” he said.
In the last few months, the number of deaths has diminished, inciting hope for the parish that Christians will one day return to Baghdad.
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