Home > Radical Islam, Wars and Rumors of War > Iraq’s ‘Twilight of Christianity’: Fleeing Islamic Extremism, Exodus From North Signals Iraqi Christians’ Slow Decline

Iraq’s ‘Twilight of Christianity’: Fleeing Islamic Extremism, Exodus From North Signals Iraqi Christians’ Slow Decline


By JACK HEALY – “TENNA, Iraq — Iraq’s dwindling Christians, driven from their homes by attacks and intimidation, are beginning to abandon the havens they had found in the country’s north, discouraged by unemployment and a creeping fear that the violence they had fled was catching up to them.

Their quiet exodus to Turkey, Jordan, Europe and the United States is the latest chapter of a seemingly inexorable decline that many religious leaders say tolls the twilight of Christianity in a land where city skylines have long been marked by both minarets and church steeples. Recent assessments say that Iraq’s Christian population has now fallen by more than half since the 2003 American invasion, and with the military’s departure, some Christians say they lost a protector of last resort.

Their flight is felt in places like the wind-scoured village of Tenna, which has sheltered dozens of Christian migrants over the past nine years. The families fleeing Baghdad’s death squads and bombings found safety here beneath the hulking mountains, but little else besides poverty, boredom and cold. Villagers estimate that half of the 50 or so Christian homes are now empty, their families abroad.

Walid Shamoon, 42, wants to be the next to leave. He said he left Iraq’s capital in January 2011 after a confrontation with Shiite militia members set off a nightmare of escalating death threats and an attempt on his life. A brother had already been killed in a mortar attack six years earlier, so he said he quit his contract job with the Australian Embassy, giving up a $1,500 monthly salary, and came here.

These days, all he can think about is his application to emigrate to Arizona.

‘This is not a life,’ he said one recent afternoon, as a blizzard raced down from the mountains. ‘There is no improvement. There is no work.’

Many of the people now struggling in Iraq’s Kurdish north came in the wake of a suicide attack in Baghdad at Our Lady of Salvation Church in October 2010. It was the single worst assault on Iraq’s Christians since the war began, one that left 50 worshipers and 2 priests dead and that turned the church into a charnel house of scorched pews and shattered stained glass.

Christian families in Baghdad grabbed clothing, cash and a few other provisions and headed north for the Christian communities along the Nineveh plain and Kurdistan’s three provinces. They joined tens of thousands of other Christians from the capital, Mosul and other cities who traced similar arcs after earlier attacks and assassination campaigns.” Read more.

  1. 03/12/2012 at 10:31 PM

    Another Fight for Jerusalem – By Jim Fletcher – Prophecy Matters – http://www.bibleprophecyblog.com

    My friend, Italian journalist Giulio Meotti (one of the most courageous voices in Europe—or anywhere, for that matter), writing this week for Arutz Sheva, brought to light a little-known story that reflects on Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem.

    It seems there is a subtle releasing of the Mount of Olives to the Palestinians going on. Not totally shocking, given their destruction of the Temple Mount itself (two giant underground mosques have been built there in the past few years), but still disconcerting.

    The Mount of Olives is a “stone’s throw” from the Mount, and of course is central in Jewish history. As Giulio pointed out, Jewish prophets, commoners, and prime ministers are buried there, and have been for 3,000 years. I find it gratifying that former PM Menachem Begin is interred there; he was the most biblical of Israel’s modern leaders; most are buried at the military cemetery on Mt. Herzl, in the western part of the city.

    Giulio pointed out that the Palestinians are using the same effective strategy employed at Jericho, Hebron, and Nablus—violence. For a family to visit a grave on the Mount of Olives today requires a police escort.

    This is shameful and ultimately a condemnation of the entire international community. UNESCO, the UN agency devoted to the whims of the Palestinians, now labels biblical sites in Israel as “Palestinian sites.”

    Last summer, on a visit, I rented a car and though I was warned by hotel staff (in east Jerusalem!) not to drive there by myself, I did. The scene was chaotic, with honking vehicles, chickens, humans, and other debris littering the winding road to the summit. One had to pass through a Palestinian village; I got decidedly unfriendly looks.

    I simply wanted to see the place where the 10th Roman Legion encamped before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The Crusaders did the same a thousand years later, as did the British in 1917. Finally, the Mount of Olives is where the IDF’s 66th Paratroop Brigade gazed on the Temple Mount on the morning of June 7, 1967—liberation was hours away.

    The place is Jewish, and a national treasure. It would be an international treasure (and will be, one day) if the nations had any discernment.

    Giulio made an excellent point near the end of his report:

    “If Israel is abdicating the Mount of Olives, then she is abdicating Jerusalem.”
    The world is smug and thinks it is finally coming to the end of its Jewish problem. I believe we are remiss if we do not place issues such as the one Giulio has brought to our attention right alongside the Iranian threat. Israel is attacked on all sides today—culturally, militarily, diplomatically. Barack Obama has literally told the Israelis to trust him with regard to Iran, to actually place their lives in his hands.

    I tell every Israeli friend I have not to trust him in any situation. There is only One who will protect the Jewish people now, and His methods are unstoppable:

    “But I will encamp at my temple to guard it against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch.” (Zechariah 9:8)
    This is yet future. And on that day, the world will no longer reject the Jewish flavor of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives, today a decaying cemetery, will flash with the coming of the Messiah.

    And all His enemies—the enemies of His people—will realize they have spent the better part of their lives digging their own graves when it comes to Israel.

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  2. ICA
    03/12/2012 at 11:04 PM

    Christ has a plan of His own that will shake things up, and the Palestinians will tremble.

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  3. 03/12/2012 at 11:50 PM

    This song is not exactly related, although if the Palestinians (or anybody!) would believe it, what an amazing change could happen in their lives. Been going thru my head since yesterday’s worship…. just wanted to share it with my peeps.

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