While Iraqi Christians have long suffered persecution and violence, it seems to have escalated lately.  I can’t even imagine the horror.  (With my emphases and comments):
Archbishop Louis Sako

.- Following planned murders, violence, and threats targeting Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul, the country’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has decided to deploy 1,000 policemen to protect the religious minority. The prime minister also opened an investigation into the attacks.  [God bless his efforts; I hope they have a positive effect.]

On Sunday, the day of the announcement, a Christian businessman was killed and his nephew wounded in a drive-by shooting in Mosul. The attacks against Christians continued to take place in Mosul on Monday as the owner of a Christian music store was killed, adding to a three week long string of attacks, which has claimed the lives of thirteen Christians.

According to SIR, the prime minister’s office has stated: “two brigades of the national police have been deployed in Mosul, which is considered by the USA and the Iraqi government to be Al Qaeda’s last stronghold in the country.”

Provincial governor Duraid Kashmula reported this past Saturday that the spike in violence has led to an exodus of about 3,000 Christian families from Mosul, which he said was the worst since the outbreak of war in 2003.

Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk Louis Sako responded to the attacks by charging that Christians are met with an “unacceptable silence” at the global level. [They’re only Christians, after all.  If this kind of persecution were happening to anybody else, I don’t think there would be such silence.  Indian Christians have been faced with the same silence.] The archbishop said many Christians in Mosul no longer go to school or work for fear of harassment by Islamic radicals.

Some employers are telling Christians to stay home because they cannot guarantee their safety.

“At the end of the day, these assassins are damaging the image of Islam,” Archbishop Sako told the Italian daily Avvenire, adding that Iraqi imams have the duty to condemn the persecution in Mosul.

The archbishop believed that Christian pastors had also “missed the mark,” claiming there was a lack of “clear and unified ecclesiastical discourse.”

On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI made an appeal for Christians who are persecuted all over the world, specially referencing India and Iraq.  [His seems to be the only global voice speaking out… are people listening?]

And here is another article… a rather chilling and impassioned plea from a priest:

Fr. Philip Najim

.- Father Philip Najim of the Patriarchate of Babylonia of the Chaldeans, warned this week that violent anti-Christian violence carried out by Islamic fundamentalists in Iraq has turned the country “into a place of death, a country in which the death and harming of defenseless people has become an industry.”

In an interview with the L’Osservatore Romano, Father Najim explained that with this wave of violence, those paying the price are “the Christian communities of Mosul, which in recent days have suffered persecution.  Just today (Sunday) alone, one thousand people have had to abandon their homes after threats from unscrupulous terrorist groups.”

After pointing out the Church’s work to help people by offering them refuge in monasteries and convents, Father Najim said Mosul is currently “a prisoner of dark forces, of criminal gangs who want to postpone and block any peace process that the Iraqis wish to reach.

“The situation in Mosul has gotten worse,” he continued.  “There is a sinister interest in getting rid of the Christians in this city.  This is a black policy which does not favor man, it´s not a policy that seeks to improve the situation and bring democracy to the country.  We cannot have peace when life is not respected, especially human life, which is a natural right and above all a gift from God.”

Father Najim said the Government “is doing nothing” and that the international community is silent.  “The occupational forces in Iraq also contribute to destabilizing the country, because they are not able to guarantee peace. No one cares about us or about Iraq.  In this interview I want to get everyone’s attention so that they will intervene and put an end to the violence and respect life,” the priest said.

Fr. Najim’s language brings to mind Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.”  This is very true in every instance where human life is not respected.  Such lack of respect may have human agents, but there is nothing human about it.

Our Lord taught that some demons cannot be cast out but by prayer and fasting.  I understand that.  And I’m trying to do my part in that respect.

Still, I wish I could think of something I could do in addition to help our brethren in Iraq and other lands torn by war, terror, and persecution.  It’s so overwhelming sometimes.  And I fell very helpless sometimes.  But there is no room in this battle for feeling helpless.  We each just have to do as St. Paul says:  “Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground” (Eph. 6:13). 

Each of us just has to hold our own ground. Each of us taking that responsibility ultimately works to the benefit of all our brethren.

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