Iraqi Christians situation in the recent History
Total Population in Iraq: 30.4 million.
Muslims: 97 percent (60-65 percent Shiite, 32-37 percent Sunni)
Christians or other: 3 percent
During Al Baath’s Party Era:
The Christian community in Iraq is one of the oldest in the region, dating back about 2,000 years, well before the introduction of Islam.
Since the start of the Iraq war in 2003, much of the community has fled the country, diminishing its population within Iraq’s borders by about half.
Under the Baath party, a secular government Headed by Saddam Hussein, he was a Sunni Muslim; Sunnis comprise about 35 percent of Iraqis.
Since the Sunni government was a minority government. Other minorities, including Christians, felt much more protected than they do currently as the present persecution has proven.
Under the Baath’s Party it was understood that if you don’t interfere in politics, then you are provided with a good life. As a result of not being involved in opposing the Baath Party and turning their focus elsewhere, Christians prospered economically. They were businessmen, doctors, lawyers, and engineers. A select few were part of the political elite.
The Baath Party ensured that their minority-rule regime was safe from uprisings. The regime was equally intolerant of any sectarian-led violence. However, Christians were not a “favored community” under the Baath‘s rule, they were simply left alone, as a result, and these minorities did not rebel against the party. The Christians were free to worship, free to build churches, and free to speak the ancient language of Jesus, Aramaic. But, after the invasion, militants launched a war on each other and the minorities.
During Nouri Al-Maliki’s and Haidar al-Abadi’s Era:
Once the Baath regime fell, animosity between all religious communities exploded. The smallest minorities suffered the most. Before 2003, there were about 1,000,000 Christians in Iraq. In 2012 there were less than 400,000.
In 2008, The Reverend Canon Andrew White, affectionately known as The Vicar of Baghdad, says the situation for Christians in Iraq is “clearly worse” than under the previous regime, toppled by US and Coalition forces in 2003.
On August 1, 2004, a series of car bomb attacks took place during the Sunday evening Mass in churches of two Iraqi cities, Baghdad and Mosul. The six attacks killed at least 12 people and wounded at least 71. No one claimed responsibility for the attacks, but it was believed it was planned by Al-Qaeda. The bombings marked the first major attack against the Christian community since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The attacks happened within a few minutes of each another. The rigged cars were parked outside churches and detonated when parishioners were leaving services. Only one of the bombings is believed to have been a suicide attack. Of the six bombs, one did not explode and the police was able to remove it safely.
One of the bombed churches the Our Lady of Salvation (Syriac Catholic Cathedral) was attacked again on October 31, 2010. This was the deadliest attack on a Christian target since the war began were 58 martyrs were perished after more than 100 had been taken hostage. The Al-Qaeda linked insurgent group claimed responsibility for the attack; while Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Shia groups, and Iraq’s highest Catholic cleric condemned the attack, amongst others.
The church is named in honour of Our Lady of Deliverance or Our Lady of Salvation (Sayidat al-Nejat).
ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria)in the Iraq
The United Nations estimates that militants with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have forced nearly 180,000 families — or more than a million people — from their homes in Iraq. The exodus roughly breaks down into three phases:
January 1 to May 31 – Over 151 days, 540 families, on average were displaced daily, 80,704 families known displaced months before it became something of a household name, ISIS took control of much of Anbar Province, displacing an estimated 500,000 Iraqis.
June 1 to July 31:
Over 61 days, 1,341 families, on average were displaced daily, 3,783 families known displaced.
Another half-million Iraqis were displaced in June and July when ISIS captured Mosul and advanced south toward Baghdad. Most of the families were Christians.
August 1 to August 6:
Over 6 days, 2,137 families, on average, were displaced daily. In early August, ISIS seized several towns under Kurdish control, displacing Yazidis, Christians and other religious minority groups. Although the United Nations says that the capture of Sinjar may have displaced as many as 33,000 families, that number is not yet included in the official data.
Mosul, a home to Christians for two millennium, has been purged of them. Long a minority on the vast Ninevah plains, and accustomed to persecution, they nonetheless survived alongside Muslims. But when the bloodthirsty jihadist known as Islamic State moved in, seizing Iraq’s second-largest city and announcing a caliphate of strict Shariah law, Christian homes were marked with the letter “N,” for Nasare — a Muslim term for Christians which derives from Nazareth. They were told to convert or die. But the Iraqi Christians still have kept their faith.
When ISIS took over Mosul, many residents from there had fled to Qaraqosh, Bartella and Tall Kayf, these villages are predominately Christian. ISIS pursuit their attack and took over these villages after few day. Hundreds of Christian families fled to Dohuk and Arbil.
ISIS also set fire to a 1,800-year-old church in Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul, the above photo shows the burning of the church is the latest in a series of destruction of Christian property in Mosul, which was taken by the Islamist rebels last month, along with other swathes of Iraqi territory.
Displaced Iraqi Christians families have occupied every inch of St. Joseph’s Church grounds in Erbil, northern Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. Some have a few belongings they managed to gather as they fled their homes. Others have nothing but the clothes they wore. Late Wednesday, 7 Aug. 2014, militants overran a cluster of predominantly Christian villages alongside the country’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, sending tens of thousands of civilians and Kurdish fighters fleeing from the area, several priests in northern Iraq said Thursday.
“It’s absolutely horrendous,” said Canon Andrew White, who has headed St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad since 2005. “Every Christian has been ousted from Kirkuk and Nineveh, once the traditional homeland of Iraqi Christians. Many were told their choice was to convert to Islam, be killed or pay the jizya tax [to ensure protection of non-Muslim minorities]. Those who didn’t were shot dead, and a lot were killed in ghastly ways.”
Christians from the town of Qaraqosh were fleeing today after it was taken by fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) on Wednesday night.
Damaged / Occupied Christian Churches since 10 June 2014:
Since taking over Mosul on June 10 2014, ISIS has destroyed, occupied, converted to mosques, converted to ISIS headquarters or shuttered all 45 Christian institutions in Mosul.
The following is the complete list of the Christian institutions in Mosul, grouped by denomination.
Syriac Catholic Church:
- Syrian Catholic Diocese – Maidan Neighborhood, Mosul
- The Old Church of the Immaculate – Maidan Neighborhood, Mosul (The church goes back to the eighth century AD)
- The New Church of the Immaculate – Maidan Neighborhood
- Church of Mar (Saint) Toma – Khazraj Neighborhood
- Museum of Mar (Saint) Toma – Khazraj Neighborhood
- Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation – Muhandiseen Neighborhood
- Church of the Virgin of Fatima – Faisaliah Neighborhood
- Our Lady of Deliverance Chapel – Shifaa Neighborhood
- The House of the Young Sisters of Jesus – Ras Al-Kour Neighborhood
- Archbishop’s Palace Chapel – Dawasa Neighborhood
Syriac Orthodox Church:
- Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese – Shurta Neighborhood
- The Antiquarian Church of Saint Ahodeeni – Bab AlJadeed Neighborhood
- Mar (Saint) Toma Church and cemetery, (the old Bishopric) – Khazraj Neighborhood
- Church of The Immaculate (Castle) – Maidan Neighborhood
- Church of The Immaculate – Shifaa Neighborhood
- Mar (Saint) Aprim Church – Shurta Neighborhood
- St. Joseph Church – The New Mosul Neighborhood
Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East:
- Diocese of the Assyrian Church of the East – Noor Neighborhood
- Assyrian Church of the East, Dawasa Neighborhood
- Church of the Virgin Mary (old rite) – Wihda Neighborhood
Chaldean Church of Babylon:
- Chaldean Diocese – Shurta Neighborhood
- Miskinta Church – Mayassa Neighborhood
- The Antiquarian Church of Shimon alSafa – Mayassa Neighborhood
- Church of Mar (Saint) Buthyoon – Shahar AlSouq Neighborhood
- Church of St. Ephrem, Wady AlAin Neighborhood
- Church of St. Paul – Majmooaa AlThaqafiya District
- The Old Church of the Immaculate (with the bombed archdiocese)- Shifaa Neighborhood
- Church of the Holy Spirit – Bakir Neighborhood
- Church of the Virgin Mary – Drakziliya Neighborhood
- Ancient Church of Saint Isaiah and Cemetery – Ras AlKour Neighborhood
- Mother of Aid Church – Dawasa Neighborhood
- The Antiquarian Church of St. George- Khazraj Neighborhood
- St. George Monastery with Cemetery – Arab Neighborhood
- Monastery of AlNasir (Victory) – Arab Neighborhood
- Convent of the Chaldean Nuns – Mayassa Neighborhood
- Monastery of St. Michael – Hawi Church Neighborhood
- The Antiquarian Monastery of St. Elijah – Ghazlany Neighborhood
Armenian Orthodox Church:
- Armenian Church – Maidan Neighborhood
- The New Armenian Church – Wihda Neighborhood
Evangelical Presbyterian Church:
- Evangelical Presbyterian Church – Mayassa Neighborhood
- Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers and Convent of Katrina Siena Nuns – Sa’a Neighborhood
- Convent of the Dominican Sisters, – Mosul AlJadeed Neighborhood
- Convent of the Dominican Sisters (AlKilma Monastery) – Majmooaa AlThaqafiya District
- House of Qasada AlRasouliya (Apostolic Aim) (Institute of St. John the Beloved)
- Christian Cemetery in the Ekab Valley which contains a small chapel.
The Chaldean Church in Iraq warned of a possible “end of Christian history” in Iraq, which is due to more than 2,000 years, if the current situation did not change, indicating that the presence of its followers in the country has become “symbolic” because of the continuing migration to the outside as a result of the violence that affect them.
The Chaldean Patriarch in Iraq and the world, Saint Louis Raphael first Sako said during his visit to Brussels accompanied by two bishops in an effort to ask for the protection of the European Union for their followers. According to a report by Reuters and followed by IraqiNews.com, that “the war and sectarian conflict caused the shrinking number of Christians in Iraq from more than a million and a half before the U.S. invasion of the country in 2003, to less than 400 thousand now, “adding that” those Christians who remained in Iraq started the migration to Turkey, Lebanon and European countries to escape the deteriorating security situation.”
On 12 August 2014, the UN has declared the humanitarian crisis in Iraq as a level three emergency – the highest possible emergency level. Your help and support is urgently needed to provide emergency aid for thousands of Christian Iraqi families affected by the violence.
The mass influx of people has drained supplies; donate today to ensure their survival.
Approximately 110,000 people have been displaced by the latest crisis in Dohuk and Erbil within the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I). At least 65,000 have been displaced in the last two weeks. There is severe, ongoing displacement across the country, particularly in Anbar, Diyala and Ninewa governorates.
Hundreds of thousands of people are in urgent need of shelter, food, water and medical care. Those still living in conflict-affected areas require urgent protection from violence.