Christians in Baghdad fearful as ISIS troops advance
June 18, 2014
Christians in Baghdad are “terrorized and deeply distressed” amid rumors that Islamic militants have reached the outskirts of the Iraqi capital city.
Bishop Saad Syroub, an auxiliary of the Chaldean Catholic patriarchate, told Aid to the Church in Need that the Iraqi government has responded to the threat of the ISIS militia by blocking access to the internet, thus “preventing us from communicating with the outside world.” The result is that rumors spread more rapidly, fanning the flames of panic.
“After more than 2,000 years during which we have withstood obstacles and persecutions, Iraq is today almost emptied of its Christian presence,” said Bishop Syroub. He reported that many Christians have asked for copies of their baptismal certificates, as they prepare for flight to other countries.
Bishop Syroub argued that the current upheaval in Iraq is a result of the US invasion in 2003 and the attempt to impose a democratic government “which cannot function if there is no true reconciliation.” The bishop said that world powers—and especially the US—should seek to promote negotiations between the warring parties.
“We fear a civil war,” the bishop said. A full-scale conflict would be a disaster, he said. “Another war would mean the end, especially for us Christians.”