Christians: A Declining Community in the Middle East

By Kelsey Duckett

Suicide bombers belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq, a militant organization connected to al Qaeda, stormed a Chaldean church in Baghdad last week. Approximately 120 parishioners were taken hostage, and when Iraqi government forces attempted to free them, the terrorists — who had already shot dead some of the churchgoers —detonated their suicide vests and grenades, slaughtering at least half the congregation.

The massacre in Baghdad is only the most recent demonstration of discrimination and persecution of the native Christian communities of Iraq and Iran.Christians are the largest non-Muslim religious minority in both Iraq and Iran, with roots in the Middle East that date back to the earliest days of the faith.

According to the Times of India, the region which is the cradle of Christianity counts 20 million Christians, including five million Catholics, out of a population of 356 million, according to figures released by the Vatican.

The article also stated that Christian communities have witnessed increasing violence against their neighborhoods, children and religious sites — even pastors are not safe, two died in the recent Baghdad bombing, many more have been killed since 2003.

 

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