In order to meet Iraq's Christians this year, Santa Claus will have to steer his sleigh to Jordan, Syria, Kurdistan or Europe. After Al-Qaida's October 31 massacre at a central Baghdad church, thousands of Christians have decided that their homeland is no longer safe. [...]
"Contacting the authorities forces us to identify ourselves, and we aren't certain that some of the people threatening us aren't the people in the government offices that are supposed to be protecting us," one Christian Iraqi told the newspaper Sawt al-Iraq. Others have reported masked men coming to their homes at night and demanding that they "convert to Islam, leave or die."
Though the Iraqi authorities have posted security forces at churches in major cities, community leaders have decided they will celebrate Christmas Eve only the following afternoon, and are calling upon Christians to celebrate in modest home ceremonies and not to be overly visible in the streets....
Iraqi Christians also have serious complaints about U.S. President Barack Obama, who they say is not doing enough to protect their rights. Vice President Joe Biden has indeed condemned the murder of the Christians in Baghdad and has called upon the new Iraqi government to protect its minorities, but beyond that it does not appear the administration is able to do anything to stop the attacks.
Representatives of the Iraqi Christian community fear that this Christmas will not only be a memorial for the 58 killed in the Baghdad church, but will also mark the loss of the country's Christian minority as a whole. Nassir Sharhoom, 47, who fled last month to the Kurdish capital, Erbil, told The New York Times: "It's exactly what happened to the Jews. They want us all to go." In the meantime, it appears that "they" are on the way to achieving their goal.