“But the brutality of the murders and the lack of evidence of theft have led some to believe that the crime may have had religious overtones.”
From Compass Direct:
ISTANBUL, March 30 (Compass Direct News) — The murder of two Christian women in their Kirkuk home this week highlights growing insecurity facing Christians, often targeted for money in war-torn Iraq.
Kirkuk Archbishop Louis Sako said that thieves repeatedly stabbed and strangled lay Christians Fadhila Naoum, 85, and Margaret Naoum, 79, after breaking into their house at 7:30 p.m. on Monday evening (March 26).
Though a police official told The Associated Press that he had ruled out the possibility of attempted robbery, Sako said he believed the murders were motivated only by theft.
“It was a pure robbery [attempt],” Sako told Compass. “[The robbers] were looking for money and gold. I was at the house half an hour after the murder, and it was completely in disorder.”
Speaking from Kirkuk yesterday following a mass celebrated on behalf of the sisters to complete the traditional three days of mourning, the archbishop commented that “chaos” in Iraq, not religious violence, was behind the killings.
Open Doors, a Christian organization working with suffering Christians around the world, said in a January 17 press release, “The main reason [for attacks on Christians] is money.” The organization noted that Muslim extremists have worked to expel Christians from certain cities, but said that most Iraqi Christians are targeted because they own shops and are believed to have money.
Clergy in Baghdad told Compass that five of seven church leaders kidnapped in Iraq last year were likely targeted solely for money.
But the brutality of the murders and the lack of evidence of theft have led some to believe that the crime may have had religious overtones.
“The terrorists have already killed a Christian policeman, soldier and oil engineer,” Kirkuk cathedral priest Father Saoor Shamel told the Tuscaloosa News on Tuesday (March 27).
The AP reported on March 27 that 1st Lt. Marewan Salih said there was no sign of a robbery, but the article incorrectly claimed that the sisters were nuns. Sako confirmed to Compass that the murderers had taken nothing from the Naoums” home.