One of the clearest signs of our destruction of Iraq can be seen this Christmas day in the fears and dangers faced by Iraqi Christians. Christians have lived in Iraq since the founding of their religion and have been a vibrant part of local society with more than 1.2 million present prior to the US invasion. That number has now dropped to 400,000 and more leave every day. Over 1,000 families have left since the massacre at Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation church in October.
Amidst the usual empty statements – from Maliki as well as Biden – and calls for the creation of a Christian city in Ninevah — churches canceled midnight services and Christmas decorations in an attempt to discourage more attacks. Today however about 400 gathered once again at the church to honor those who died:
“Last year, we were all gathering” for Christmas, said Uday Saadallah Abdal. But “this year, I went to the house, and I saw it was empty… I was crying all night, because no one was here any more.”
The 28-year-old said two of his brothers were killed in the attack — one of the priests, Father Thair, and another brother Raed. His mother was also shot three times, and is hospitalised in France.
“I feel that their souls are still there in the church; that is why I came. They encourage me to come here despite all the danger and threats,” Abdal said of his brothers.
In the midst of our celebrations, may we also hear the voices of Abdal’s brothers and find in ourselves a similar courage to end the destruction.
Tomorrow morning, the GorillasGuides team who have been sharing a series of informative posts on Islam – including last week’s discussion of Jesus– will be posting a video Christmas message – I hope you will join me in viewing it.