Reg. No. 1084047
Editorial supervisor, Dr. Helmy Guirguis
 
Dr. Helmy Guirguis 71, the president of the UK Copts, passed away on the 31 of January, 2015 after a struggle with illness. UK Copts mourns its founder and leader. He is a leader that touched so many by his life and has been fighting for the coptic case till his last breath. The commemoration mass for his 40th day will be held on Sunday 15th of March, 2014 starting 8 AM in Saint Mary and Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Centre of Birmingham (Lapworth) .For commiserations, please send us an email to info@copts.co.uk

Iraq crisis: The last Christians of Baghdad



Last Christmas in Baghdad? There are just 1,500 Christians left in the suburb of Dora, down from 150,000 a decade ago. There will be no last stand for the besieged Iraqi Christians of Dora. Father Timothaeus Issa talks of holding out for the sake of his dwindling flock, but even he is packing his bags, just in case.
 
"The people with families have left," he said. "The old people, some of them have stayed. All the young people have left. There are very few children here.
 
"As for me, in terms of my religious responsibilities, my job is to be father of my people here. I have to stay with these families.
 
"But personally, I'm thinking about it. I'm making my preparations."
 
Dora's is not a precipitate flight, as so many others of Christians and other minorities in Iraq have been in 2014: a year of ethnic cleansing that capped a decade of violence and disasters. It is more deliberate, but more permanent.
 
"I think all our families are thinking of emigrating now," Fr Timothaeus said. "They are marking time. They think of their lives here as temporary."
 
Dora is a suburb of Baghdad, a city which has ironically become safer as the rest of Iraq has burned in 2014.
 
But it is a Sunni suburb, and in Iraq's fractured sectarian politics that means it is awash with jihadis of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and their sympathisers.
 
The constant death threats have built on years of bombings and kidnaps to create a psychological turning point for what was once a thriving mixed community.
 
A decade ago, when the Americans and British invaded Iraq, there were 150,000 Christians – mostly Assyrian and Chaldean Catholics – living in Dora. With its broad if dusty streets, and comfortable villas, it must have been a decent place to live.
 
Now, the blast walls that snake through Baghdad turn Dora – like most of the city's suburbs – into a Russian doll of communities: Christians are surrounded by Sunnis, themselves walled off from Baghdad's surrounding Shia majority.
 
Just 1,500 Christians remain.
 
They worship at the emptying churches like Fr Timothaeus's St Shmoni's, behind barricades and army checkpoints. Every month, he says, two or three more families load their cars and quit.
 
The means of their gradual expulsion vary with the years. Only the end result – flight, and emigration to Sweden and America – remains the same.
 
Despite talks of genocide, the Christians have not been killed in large numbers this year – spared the mass shootings of thousands of soldiers, the casual killings of Turkmen Shia, the roadside murders and collective rapes of Yazidis that followed Isil's lethal sweep through the country in the summer.
 
But they have not been allowed to remain. In Qaraqosh, Bartella, Tel Kayf and the other Christian towns of the Ninevah plain around Mosul, they were given 48 hours to leave when Isil arrived.
 
In Mosul, they were told to convert or die.
 
In Dora, they get death threats. A note is left, telling a house's occupants they have a day to leave.
 
Sometimes, they are told to leave money – $800 is normal – at a named shop, if they want to remain. They hand over the money and leave anyway.
 
This is not new, and for some the threats follow them wherever they go – until they leave the country.
 
"They left an envelope with a bullet in it at my house," said Fadi, 38, a former Dora resident. "The message said, 'you are an infidel Crusader. Leave or we will kill you and your family.'
 
"So I left Dora and went over to my brother's house somewhere safer. They burned down my apartment and then threatened me at my brother's too."
____________________________________________
 
The Telegraph – UK

Add comment

Security code
Refresh

You can Make a Difference
Join Us Become a member in the organization.

Login

Reports

Previous Next
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
U.S. International Religious Freedom Report for 2013 – Egypt

Respect for religious freedom remained poor during the year under both former President Mohamed Morsy’s administration and the current interim government. On July 3, Mohamed Morsy was removed and Adly Mansour was named interim president.

FCO Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report 2013

Foreign Secretary William Hague launched the 2013 Foreign & Commonwealth Office Report on Human Rights and Democracy. The report is a comprehensive assessment of the global human rights situation in 2013. It sets out what the Government is doing through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to promote human rights and democratic values around the world in three principal ways.

75 Percent of Persecution is Against Christians: Report

The 2013 Persecuted and Forgotten? Report provides in-depth analysis of the situation Christians face in 30 countries where believers, to one degree or another, are not fully free to practice their faith. In the past two years violence and intimidation targeting Christians have increased in a number of nations.