Mosul Christian Community Dwindles
Many go abroad to escape the threat of violence, while others seek refuge in the countryside around Mosul.
By Sahar al-Haideri in Mosul
(ICR No. 230, 7-Aug-07)
They have been threatened because of their Christian faith, their distinctive clothing and their success in business. They have been killed because of a controversy over a cartoon. They have fled to wherever they can find a minimal amount of safety - to Iraqi Kurdistan, abroad to Syria, or just to the countryside outside their city.
The Christians of Mosul can recite one horror story after another. Once a solid, middle-class community in this northern city, thousands of them have fled their homes under threat from militants. Their churches have been bombed, their clergy murdered, and community members regularly face threats and kidnappings.
The story of Mosul's Christians is not dissimilar to that of millions of other Iraqi citizens who live in a state of fear. But their religion makes them especially vulnerable, in a city where governance and the rule of law are non-existent, allowing criminal gangs and Islamic militant groups such as al-Qaeda to intimidate and kill with impunity.
"Life has become difficult in Mosul," said Ilham Sabah, a Christian attorney who wears the veil because she fears she would otherwise be killed. "The militants threaten Christian women. They set them on fire or kill them if they refuse to wear Islamic dress as Muslim women do. the rest