The Plight of Iraqi Christians
Iraqi Christian refugees worshipping in Turkey.
Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries
While visiting recently in Turkey, we had the opportunity to meet, on two occasions, with Iraqi Christians who are now refugees. These Iraqis have fled their homeland since the fall of Saddam Hussein, an event which many believed would bring hope to Iraq. But wars bring unintended consequences. The resulting lack of control unleashed religious violence against the Christian community, including the recent bombing of St. George's Cathedral in the heart of Baghdad.
Strangely enough, the Assyrian Orthodox, who make up the largest number of Christians in Iraq, were provided a certain degree of freedom and protection under Saddam. In fact, Saddam's foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, is a Chaldean Christian. Under Saddam, Christians had rights. Saddam saw them as having a historic right to be present in the country.
But no more. Now that the dictator is no longer defending them, it has become very dangerous to be a Christian in Iraq. Today these Christians are fleeing their homeland in search of asylum in neighboring Syria, Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. However, asylum is temporary, and many are working to gain refugee status in Europe and North America.