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Iraqi Christians feel ‘forgotten’ amid violence, persecutioncomment (0)

February 20, 2014


Iraqi Christians feel ‘forgotten’ amid violence, persecution

When Don Alan thinks of Iraq, he thinks of friends who sit trembling in their walled neighborhoods, afraid to take their kids to school.

There’s good reason for their fear, he said. January was Iraq’s deadliest month in nearly six years — more than 1,000 people died at the hands of gunmen and bombers. A total of 200 deaths were recorded during the first week of February, according to iraqbodycount.org. The website has tallied the nation’s violent deaths since 2003.

Scores of people were killed on Feb. 5 alone, according to CNN. During the course of the day, car bombs, suicide bombers and gunmen littered Baghdad and Mosul with bodies. Several of the attacks targeted security checkpoints, a normal part of life for Iraqis.

“Checkpoints there are as common as stoplights in the United States,” said Alan, a Christian leader in the region. “In Baghdad, life is surrounded by blast walls. Every neighborhood is sealed off by walls with only one or two entrances.”

Fear is pervasive and bloodshed is common, he said. “The whole country is more unstable than it’s been in quite a while, and it’s been heading that way for quite some time.”

Sectarian and political violence has been escalating for months, but recent fighting in the western province of Anbar has left 140,000 homeless and accelerated the uptick in the death count, according to CNN.

“My heart is broken for the people who have had to live through this for 10 or 11 years — they yearn for peace, and they are living with pretty severe post-traumatic stress symptoms,” Alan said.

But sometimes what breaks Alan’s heart the most is how the tragedy is lost on many Christians in the West.

“I’m afraid the Christian world has forgotten that there are hurting people in Iraq,” he said. “Do we in the West have the courage and boldness to engage lostness in the midst of tragedy? My heart breaks when I read of 20, 30, 60 who have been killed. I wonder if they ever had a chance to hear the gospel.”

He also wonders if Christians in the United States remember they have brothers and sisters living out their faith in heavy persecution in Iraq. “They feel forgotten.”

Editor’s Note — Names have been changed for security reasons.

(BP)

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