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'In 20 years, there will be no more Christians in Iraq'

Reader comment on item: Intimidating the West, from Rushdie to Benedict
in response to reader comment: Follow agent provocateurs!

Submitted by AS (India), Oct 6, 2006 at 05:10

Three years after the invasion of Iraq, it is believed that half the Christians in the country have fled, driven out by bomb attacks, assassinations and death threats.

Three members of his family had already been murdered before Shamon Isaac decided to leave Baghdad. First, his son-in-law Raid Khalil was shot dead in January 2005 as he fled gunmen who had tried to pull him and his father into a minibus. Like many Christians, Khalil had received a death threat signed by the Islamic Army in Iraq. He left behind a widow and a baby girl, who is now nearly two.

Four weeks after Khalil was killed, Isaac's brother was stopped at a checkpoint by seven men in Iraqi army uniforms as he was on his way to collect passports to take his own family out of the country. "People in the neighbourhood shouted to his daughter that her father had been assassinated," Isaac said, "and she came out and found his body in the street." Then last August Isaac's brother-in-law was shot dead in his shop by three gunmen.

Finally Isaac and his family had no choice. When in January this year cars started to circle the family home in al-Dora with men shooting in the air, they escaped to another Baghdad neighbourhood, al-Jediya. But major demonstrations were taking place throughout the Muslim world in response to the Danish cartoons and on January 29 bombs ripped through seven churches in Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk, killing 16. Then one day a man walked into the small shop that the family had just opened next to their new home, bought some cigarettes and walked out, but not before he had left a letter on the counter. On opening it, they found it contained a single word: "Blood."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1888848,00.html

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