Christians continue to suffer in the new Iraq. Now, they’re leaving, as they already have from many other areas of the Islamic world. From Insight mag, with thanks to Nicolei, EPG, and Looney Tunes:
Facing a June 30 deadline for transfer of power, a temporary constitution that reads, in Article 7, that Islam is the “Official Religion of the State,” and the most recent humiliation for the community — the failure to receive even one position on the Executive Council and only one ministry post, the Ministry of Emigration — the Christians of Iraq are voting with their feet.
“On a recent night the church had to spend more time on filling out baptismal forms needed for leaving the country than they did on the [worship] service,” says Amir, a deacon at a local church who does not want his full name published. “We have been flooded with parishioners desperate to leave the country, and as they cannot get an exit permit without a baptismal certificate from the church we have been swamped with requests. … In recent days nearly 400 families as far as we can tell have filled out baptismal forms to leave the country. Our community is being decimated.”
Most of the Christians in Iraq are Assyrians — people who claim to be the original inhabitants of Iraq. The Assyrians were the people of Nineveh — present-day Mosul — the city to which God sent the biblical Jonah.
Because they are Christians and seen as allies of the West, the Assyrians have long been subject to persecution. The Assyrian Church, known officially as the Assyrian Church of the East, is the oldest continually existing church in the world. Assyrians are the only people in the world who still speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ.
It’s not just because they are seen as allies of the West that they are persecuted. Dhimmitude as a legal system and then as a cultural hangover has contributed a great deal to a culture of discrimination and harassment.