As Ramadan begins, some Muslims in Iraq see causing more mayhem to be a religious act — and so life continues to be perilous for the Christians of Iraq. From AFP, with thanks to Kevin:
IRAQ’S tiny Christian community was targeted in a string of blasts at churches around Baghdad today, while a medic was killed when a mortar round exploded outside a hospital.
As chaos returned to the streets, US and Iraqi troops held firm to positions around the rebel hub of Fallujah, west of the capital, in the hunt for Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi – the country’s most wanted man who is blamed for some of the deadliest attacks here since last year’s invasion.
In an apparently coordinated attack on the second day of the holy month of Ramadan, the church of Saint Joseph was hit at about 4am local time (11am AEST) followed by similar explosions over the next two hours outside four others.
One of the buildings, the Roman Catholic St George’s church in the central Baghdad district of Karrada, was engulfed in flames, leaving the wood-built sanctuary completely charred.
“My family and I fled from the fire,” said the church’s priest Nabil Jamil Sulaiman, wandering around the mangled debris.
“Thanks God, there were no wounded or dead.”
On the wall inside the charred remains of the church could be made out some words from the Bible talking of the broken body of Jesus Christ.
Monsignor Emmanuel Delly, the patriarch of the Chaldean Church, expressed the fears of his beleaguered community, who were the victims of a similar attack at the start of August that left 10 people dead and 50 injured.
“If the government is powerless, what can we do?” Monsignor Delly said.
“We call on them (attackers) not to touch the holy sites.”…
Iraq’s Christian community – which makes up just three per cent of the majority Muslim population – has been heavily targeted in the unrest that has swept Iraq following last year’s US-led invasion and many have fled….
US troops arrested yesterday a Sunni Muslim cleric accused of preaching holy war (jihad), the military said.