Post-Saddam Iraq Still Unsafe for Christians

( [email protected] ) Mar 17, 2004 02:44 PM EST

Baghdad - Under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, Christians were constantly under extreme restriction and discrimination. In war torn Iraq today, Christians do not have to worry about political persecution from Hussein and his regime any longer, however there are still concern with their safety.

Under Hussein's hand, Iraq's Christian population never actually received the complete hostility or violence that many suffered. Christians had been a minority group that did not pose a direct threat to the regime. Nonetheless, the Christian Iraqis were quite overjoyed that Hussein's government was finally overthrown and that the dicator himself was captured in the past year.

After Iraq's defeat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Christian villages and churches were brutalized. Thousands had left the nation to other countries after this occurrence utilized to gain favor from conservative Muslim groups. Since Hussein's capture, few of those who had fled Iraq are willing to return.

Now Muslims, Christians and others who reside in Iraq are vulnerable to bombings and shootings as a result of the missing presence of law enforcement in Iraq. An Assyrian social club owner, Shmaonel Tito Jajo comments, "Before it was a dictatorship. Now it is lack of security, it's the same."

Father Louis Shabi of St. Joseph Chaldean Church stated "We have no security, no independence ... (we have lost our) government, stability, our president and our ministries." "Saddam's government was for all Iraqi people. We had someone to talk to about our difficulties."

Catholic Patriarch Emmanuelle-Karim Delly responded to a question concerning whether life in Iraq is better now that Saddam is gone, "To be frank, no, not at the moment." "Christians are afraid to go out, as are Muslims. They are more frightened than before, of car bombs, explosions. We didn't have this before."

However, Delly was relieved in saying that "So far, thank God, there is no problem between us and the Muslims. We have lived together for two centuries as brothers." Mostly, the Iraqis worry about the terrorism that comes from outside of Iraq to make trouble for the Iraqi people.

Today, there are approximately 750,000 Christians living in Iraq. Many of them are of the Chaldean denomination of Christianity in Iraq. Chaldean is branched from the Roman Catholic Church. Before UN sanctions were imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, two million Christians, about nine percent of the population, lived in Iraq.