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Wave of anti-Christian violence spreading in Iraq

Catholic World News - November 10, 2010

At least six people were killed and dozens injured in a series of bombings in Baghdad, as violence against Christians escalated across Iraq.

Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki visited the Baghdad church that was the site of a massacre last week, and pleaded with Christians not to leave Iraq. He promised that the government would “do everything possible” to encourage Christians to remain.

But on the same day, mortar shells and homemade bombs exploded at several Christian homes in Bagdad, making it clear that the campaign of violence and intimidation was continuing.

Archbishop Atanase Matti Shaba Matoka, the Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Baghdad, told the Fides news service: "Despite the proclamations, the government does nothing to stop this wave of violence that overwhelms us. There are policemen in front of the churches, but now the homes of our faithful are being attacked.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, said that “Iraqi authorities should take into serious consideration” new measures to provide security for the country’s Christian minority.

Iraq’s Christian population, which stood at about 1 million in 2003 before the start of the second US military incursion, is now estimated at something less than 500,000. That number is likely to dip further as the violence drives more families to seek security elsewhere.

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