Iraqi Christians Hope for Government Stability

( [email protected] ) Mar 15, 2004 02:45 PM EST

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq’s Christian community is under less political restriction after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s 30 years of totalitarianism yet most Christians still feel frightened because of the unstable governments.

Under Hussein’s rule, Christians did experience minor suffering and now they no longer face any restriction from the government but frequent crime, shootings and bombings have become their primary fear.

According to Father Louis Shabi, parish priest of Baghdad's St Joseph Chaldean Church, 2,500 Christian families are praying for peace. "We have no security, no independence ... (we have lost our) government, stability, our president and our ministries," he said.

Osama "bin Laden said he would target the Christians. Zarqawi the Shiites and the Americans," said Entranik Yagish Artim, 51, a guard at the Lady of Flowers Armenian Catholic Church.

"What concerns us is terrorism, we're afraid of people coming from outside our country to put benzine in our fire," said Kaisir Odisha Mikho, a manager in an upmarket hotel in Baghdad's smart Karrada district.

There are about 750,000 Christians in Iraq, most of them from the Chaldean faith, Iraq's largest Christian denomination, which comes from the Roman Catholic Church. Before Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, there were about two million Christians, 9 percent of the population.

"So far, thank God, there is no problem between us and the Muslims. We have lived together for two centuries as brothers," said Catholic Patriarch Emmanuelle-Karim Delly.