In Spiegel Online (thanks to Fjordman), Amira El Ahl, Daniel Steinvorth, Volkhard Windfuhr and Bernhard Zand give a generally good summary of the plight of Christians in the Middle East.
Violence, terrorism and the Islamists’ growing influence pose a threat to Christianity in the Middle East. In some countries, members of an unpopular Christian minority are already fighting for their survival — or fleeing for their lives.
In New Baghdad, the driver of a minibus, a Shiite named Ali, set out at 7 a.m. on the last Sunday before Christmas. A few hours earlier he had received a call on his mobile phone with instructions to pick up five passengers for a long trip outside the city. His first passenger, he had been told, would tell him who the other passengers were and what their destination would be. He was also told not to mention a word to anyone.
The first passenger was a 24-year-old man named Raymon, who was sitting on his suitcase a few blocks away. He directed Ali through the city’s dreary east side, where having a Shiite as a driver is a smart move — first to the Karrada district, where Amir and Fariz boarded the bus, and then to Selakh, where Wassim and Qarram were waiting. By 9 a.m., Ali had picked up all of his passengers and the bus left Baghdad and began traveling to the northeast — for the 350-kilometer (218-mile) journey to Kurdistan, the only part of Iraq that is anything close to safe.
The five young men traveling in Ali’s red Kia were the last seminary students at the Chaldean Catholic Babel College to leave Baghdad. Four priests have been abducted since mid-August, and two others were murdered. Father Sami, the director of the seminary, was kidnapped in early December. The community managed to raise $75,000 to buy his freedom, but after hesitating for weeks, Emmanuel III, the Chaldean patriarch, decided to withdraw the teaching institutions of his community from Baghdad. He ordered the evacuation of the city’s four Catholic churches, the Hurmis monastery and the college in the city’s Dura neighborhood, but chose to remain behind in the city as the lonely shepherd of a rapidly shrinking congregation.
Read it all.