There were 300 in 2003. But then, with Saddam Hussein gone, the efforts to impose Sharia began in earnest. “Christians, churches dwindling in Iraq since start of war 10 years ago,” by Perry Chiaramonte for FoxNews.com, March 21 (thanks to all who sent this in):
The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq says that the number of Christian houses of worship there has dwindled alarmingly in the decade since the U.S. invaded and ousted Saddam Hussein from power.
There are just 57 Christian churches in the entire country, down from more than 300 as recently as 2003, Patriarch Louis Sako told Egyptian-based news agency MidEast Christian News. The churches that remain are frequent targets of Islamic extremists, who have driven nearly a million Christians out of the land, say human rights advocates.
“The last 10 years have been the worst for Iraqi Christians because they bore witness to the biggest exodus and migration in the history of Iraq,” William Warda, the head of the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization told the news agency.
Many Christians live in the provinces of Baghdad, Nineveh, and Kirkuk, and Dohuk and Erbil, which are both in the autonomous region of Kurdistan. Warda said some 1.4 million Christians lived in Iraq prior to Hussein’s ouster. Under the democratically-elected government that now oversees the war-torn, but oil-rich nation, Islamic extremists have been able to operate more freely.
“More than two-thirds [of Christians] have emigrated,” Warda noted.
One byproduct of regime change in the Middle East, whether at the hand of the U.S. military and its allies or demonstrators in the streets, has been a decline in tolerance for other religions, say experts. Only one Catholic church remains in Afghanistan, and it must be heavily protected. In Egypt and Libya, where demonstrators overthrew dictators in recent years, Christians have come under heavy persecution, say concerned advocates….
The “experts” did not note, and may not know, that this intolerance is rooted in Islamic law, which mandates the subjugation of non-Muslims (cf. Qur’an 9:29). Christians who had enjoyed more or less equal rights in Saddam’s Iraq, which did not enforce Islamic law, had to be shown their place. And they were.