Iraq: Christians Flee Targeted Terro

General October 15, 2008


***** PLAN TO PARTICIPATE IN IDOP: 9 / 16 NOVEMBER 2008 *****
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
For resources, visit http://www.idop.org
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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 500 | Wed 15 Oct 2008

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IRAQ: CHRISTIANS FLEE TARGETED TERROR
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'And the people of Nineveh believed God.' (Jonah 3:5a ESV) This
verse speaks of a pivotal point in the history of the Assyrians:
the day they turned from being a people against God to being a
people of God. Tradition has it that after turning to the God of
Israel the Assyrians formed strong diplomatic and cultural ties
with Jerusalem. Upon hearing of the resurrection of Jesus the
'people of Nineveh' again 'believed God' and embraced Jesus Christ
as Saviour. The Assyrian Church of the East, founded in AD33, is
the oldest Christian denomination in the world. Once a mighty
warrior nation, the Assyrians became a great missionary nation
until the Arab Muslim conquest of Mesopotamia in the 7th Century
ushered in an era of endless persecution, punctuated by massacres
at the hands of invading Arabs, Mongols and Kurds. The Assyrians
fought with the Allies against the Ottoman Turks in WW1 but were
subsequently abandoned to genocidal massacres after the Allied
withdrawal.

Iraq's sizable and ancient Jewish community (descendants of the
Babylonian Captives) was 'cleansed' out of Iraq in the early 1950s.
Today a famous Muslim war-cry is coming true: 'After Saturday comes
Sunday' -- after we deal with the Jews we'll deal with the
Christians. A little over 50 years since the Jews were eliminated,
Iraq's Christian community is facing genocide. First a campaign of
abductions, killings, forced conversions, church bombing and other
acts of terror sent Christians fleeing north out of Basra and
Baghdad. But not only has Mosul become the base of al-Qaeda in
Iraq, the status of northern Iraq is hotly contested by numerous
political, ethnic and armed groups, making it increasingly
dangerous and volatile.

Terrorism against Christians in Mosul has escalated during October.
Twelve Christians have been assassinated in the past two weeks,
including a 15-year-old boy shot to death in front of his home.
Violence and threats have produced what the governor of Nineveh
province, Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula, describes as 'a major
displacement'. The UN's Integrated Regional Information Network
(IRIN) reported on Sunday 12 October that some 750 Christian
families, totalling about 3750 individuals, have fled their homes
in Mosul over recent days as Sunni Muslim militants escalate their
attacks against Christians. Most of the displaced Christians are
now living with relatives or sheltering in churches and monasteries
in Christian-majority villages across Nineveh. Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki, whose political survival depends on Western support and
protection, has deployed an extra 1000 police to the region to
protect churches and Christians.

The escalation in terror may be linked to the Christian community's
recent attempts to protect its interests and future: (1) Assyrian
Christians are increasingly taking up arms for self-defence and
joining the police force in record numbers; (2) they are protesting
the loss of their political representation -- on 24 September the
al-Maliki government voted to abolish Article 50 of the Iraqi
Provincial Election Law which reserved seats for minorities; (3)
some Assyrians are calling for the creation of an autonomous
Christian-ruled province adjoining the Kurdish region, a
controversial issue dividing the Christian community. Though many
Muslims are actually supportive of them, these matters are totally
contrary to Islam and as such inflame Islamists as well as other
groups with various political and ethnic agendas.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR --

* God himself to be the shield and encourager of his people,
drawing them close, hearing their prayers, intervening on their
behalf and increasing their faith. 'It is better to take refuge
in the Lord than to trust in man. (Psalm 118:8 ESV)' 'But you, O
Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my
head. (Psalm 3:3 ESV)' 'Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver
them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82:4 ESV)'

* God to frustrate the plans of the wicked, bringing their unjust,
repressive and genocidal plans to ruin. (Psalm 146:9)

* God to intervene in Iraq: crushing the jihadists; disempowering
the Islamists; softening the intolerant and awakening the
uninterested. May the Spirit of God breathe love and mercy over
the land and into hearts so that his people may be preserved and
empowered as his witnesses in Iraq.

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ FLEE TARGETED TERROR

Northern Iraq's Nineveh province is the historic homeland of Iraq's
indigenous Assyrian Christians. Christians forced to flee the
religious 'cleansing' of Basra and Baghdad went north to Mosul and
the relative safety of Nineveh. But not only has Mosul since become
the base of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the status of northern Iraq is hotly
contested by numerous political, ethnic and armed groups. As such,
it is becoming increasingly volatile and dangerous, especially for
Christians. They have been arming for self-defence, protesting the
loss of their political rights and some have even been calling for
an autonomous Christian-run province. This has doubtless inflamed
groups with political and Islamic agendas. Murderous violence
against Christians has skyrocketed forcing nearly 4000 Christians
to flee their homes in Mosul in the past week. Please pray.

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* PLEASE KEEP PRAYING FOR INDIA: Violence against Christians
continues to plague India. More than 400 homes were burnt in the
first week of October in Kandhamal and Boudh districts of Orissa,
where Christians have also been wounded and killed in axe attacks.
Christians are even fleeing the relief camps due to insecurity and
severe hardship. Tensions remain high in Karnataka. Extreme
violence -- a sign of intense hatred -- has been a feature of
attacks in several states.

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RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
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Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.