Bishop Angaelos on the US State Department Declaration of Genocide Against Religious Minorities in the Middle East

 

Bishop Angaelos
His Grace, Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom following the United States State Department declaration of Genocide for Christians, Yazidis, Shiite Muslims and other minorities in the Middle East


17 March 2016

We have received very welcomed but unexpected news today from the United States of America, through Secretary of State John Kerry, acknowledging that ISIS “is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims”.

This announcement has come after individuals and organisations in the United States, some of which I have personally worked with, have advocated tirelessly to shed light on this important issue of human suffering and the violation of human dignity. Continue reading “Bishop Angaelos on the US State Department Declaration of Genocide Against Religious Minorities in the Middle East”

Frank Wolf’s Plan for Securing A Place for Christians in Iraq

Frank Wolf

Former American congressman Frank Wolf, who ‘recently co-founded the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative and accepted an appointment to a newly endowed chair for religious freedom at Baylor University’, has suggested, together with his colleagues in the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative a six points plan for the preservation of Christians in Iraq. Here they are, as presented in a recent article in Christianity Today:

  • Create the Nineveh Plains province in Iraq to shelter Christians and other minorities.
  • Establish the Nineveh Protection Unit, a defensive National Guard. (This is already in formation.)
  • Allow faith-based relief and development groups to operate openly in the region.
  • Require the return of property, especially churches and monasteries, confiscated by the Islamic State.
  • Require the Kurdistan regional government to insure religious freedom for all groups.
  • Prosecute terrorists for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and if needed, for genocide.

Archbishop of Mosul on ISIS

His Eminence, Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, the Archbishop of Mosul, is weeping while explaining the misery of the Iraqi Christians, who had to leave their homes in Mosul and the surrounding villages over 3 months ago. Today, they are suffering the cold winter under the poor tents in Erbil (Kurdistan). Those Christians are still speaking Syriac (Aramaic) until today.

WorldWatchMonitor – ‘One Week’ Deadlines for Iraqi Christians to Convert or ‘Face the Sword’

Iraqi refugee camp

An Iraqi Christian Mikha Qasha, fleeing from Qaraqosh, has given a personal account of members of the Islamic State, IS, coming to his house and threatening him to leave, convert to Islam or face the sword.

Qasha told Mid-East Christian News, specializing in Christian minorities in the Middle East, that IS members gave him a week to think about it; the threat came with weapons pointed at his head.

Elderly and paralyzed, Qasha, was taken away from Qaraqosh by a friend -in his wheelchair. Eventually he found his grandson, who took him to the predominantly Christian suburb of Ankawa in the province of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region.

According to MCN Direct, others who fled from a district in Nineveh, and from Qaraqosh and Bartella, said IS is now imposing a conversion deadline of one week for any non-Muslim. Qasha’s neighbour, a young man who fled the city this week, said he was hiding in his home with his father when IS members found them on August 17. They gave them a week, until August 24, to convert to Islam or be killed. Continue reading “WorldWatchMonitor – ‘One Week’ Deadlines for Iraqi Christians to Convert or ‘Face the Sword’”

Does Pope Francis Support War? Don’t Be So Sure

American airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq
American airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq (source, AP)

Media was rampant these days with suggestions that Pope Francis supports war in Iraq (Fox News, USA Today, Business Insider, etc.). But is it really so.

Here is verbatum the question he received, and here is the actual response he gave.

* * *

Q. You know that recently the U.S. forces have started bombing the terrorists in Iraq, to prevent a genocide, to protect minorities, including Catholics who are under your guidance. My question is this: do you approve the American bombing?

A. Thanks for such a clear question. In these cases where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say this: it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underline the verb: stop. I do not say bomb, make war, I say stop by some means. With what means can they be stopped? These have to be evaluated. To stop the unjust aggressor is licit.

But we must also have memory. How many times under this excuse of stopping an unjust aggressor the powers [that intervened] have taken control of peoples, and have made a true war of conquest.

One nation alone cannot judge how to stop an unjust aggressor. After the Second World War there was the idea of the United Nations. It is there that this should be discussed. Is there an unjust aggressor? It would seem there is. How do we stop him? Only that, nothing more.

Secondly, you mentioned the minorities. Thanks for that word because they talk to me about the Christians, the poor Christians. It’s true, they suffer. The martyrs, there are many martyrs. But here there are men and women, religious minorities, not all of them Christian, and they are all equal before God.
To stop the unjust aggressor is a right that humanity has, but it is also a right that the aggressor has to be stopped so that he does not do evil.

(Source, HERE)

 

 

Why US Must Save Lives of Iraq’s Christians, Other Minorities

WEA-RLC

“The world hasn’t seen an evil like this for a generation.” This is how the national spokesman for Iraqi Christians in the United States described atrocities by Isis terrorists in northern Iraq, which include beheading of children and their mothers and fathers, and forcing almost all Christians in the region to flee. While the United States has resumed military action to deal with the crisis in Iraq, its commitment reflects half-heartedness and fails to match the enormity of suffering and potential threats.

“They are systematically beheading children, and mothers and fathers … There’s actually a park in Mosul that they’ve actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick,” Mark Arabo, the spokesman for Iraqi Christians, told CNN. “This is crimes against humanity. The whole world should come together. This is much broader than a community or faith … They are doing the most horrendous, the most heart-breaking things you can think of.”

The Episcopal Vicar of Iraq, Canon Andrew White, recently visited the town of Qaraqosh, which like many other towns and cities has been captured by the Isis, to assess the situation. “The majority of the town’s 50,000 people have fled, fearing that, like other Christians in this region, they will be massacred. The militants, in a further act of sacrilege, have established their administrative posts in the abandoned churches,” he said, according to Catholic Online. Continue reading “Why US Must Save Lives of Iraq’s Christians, Other Minorities”

World Watch Monitor – ISIS invades monastery, steals ‘everything’ from Iraqi Christians

 


Displaced Iraqi Christians who fled with families from Mosul city receives humanitarian aid at Virgin Mary church
in Qaraqosh village near Mosul city, northern Iraq (source, The Telegraph)

After every known Christian is reported to have left Mosul, Islamic State fighters, IS, have now taken over a monastery near the largely Christian town of Qaraqosh, 32 miles southeast of Mosul.

According to Agence France Presse IS expelled its three resident monks, a cleric and a few families living there, ordering them to leave on foot with nothing but their clothes.

Members of the self-proclaimed “Islamic Caliphate” stormed the ancient fourth-century monastery Mar (Saint) Behnam, run by the Syriac Catholic church on Sunday July 20.

“You have no place here anymore, you have to leave immediately,” a member of the Syriac clergy quoted the Sunni militants as telling the monastery’s residents.

According to AFP the monks walked several miles before being picked up by armed Kurdish fighters who drove them to Qaraqosh.

The BBC reported that Syriac Catholic leaders have said priceless manuscripts, about both the history of Iraq and the Church, are now at risk in the monastery.

Militants of IS are reported to have killed Dr. Mahmoud Al-Asali, a professor of Law at the University of Mosul on July 21.

According to Ankawa.com, Al-Asali, a Muslim, was killed for objecting to IS looting and destroying Iraqi Christians’ possessions in Mosul, but WWM could not independently verify this.

The office and residence of the Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Yohanna Petros Moshe (in one building) has been burned down.

(Read HERE the rest of this article.)

 

Christianity in Iraq Could Become Mere ‘Symbolic Presence’

Louis Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon
Louis Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon

Leaders of Catholic churches in Iraq have flown to Europe to report on the Iraqi crisis, to try to find solutions for the country’s rapidly declining number of Christians. Their visit came amid reports that two nuns in Mosul, accompanied by two women and a boy, have been unaccounted for since Jun. 28.

They are believed to have been kidnapped by militants of the radical jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. More recently, the group has taken to calling itself the Islamic State, or IS.

On July 9, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Louis Raphael Sako of Baghdad, Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche of Mosul, and Bishop Youssif Mirkis of Kirkuk in Kurdish-controlled Iraq, held meetings in Brussels with high-level representatives of EU institutions and NATO. They discussed the situation and prospects for Christians in Iraq since the invasion of Mosul by IS last month and of the Ninevah Plains to the north, where there has been a high concentration of Christians. Many of the Christians had earlier fled Baghdad and other southern cities for the relative safety of the north. The Brussels meetings were organized by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need. Continue reading “Christianity in Iraq Could Become Mere ‘Symbolic Presence’”

How Should the Church Respond to the Arab Uprisings – An East European Perspective

Here, as I have promised, a summary of the presentation I made at the annual conference of IMES in Beirut, on the topic How Should the Church Respond to the Arab Uprisings: Challenges & Opportunities within the Emerging Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Region

I have started by saying that I agree with the three points made by Dr Martin Accad in the introduction to the topic. He highlighted the problems of the church in the MENA region under three headings:

1. Church siding with power
2. Minority complex
3. Scare of the future
In my presentation of the Arab Spring viewed from an Eastern European perspective, I have covered the following points:
1. I have started with a story. A number of years ago I was in Beirul for a conference of Evangelicals for Middle east Understanding, where a number of Iraqi church leaders spoke enthusiastically about how good and humane is then President Saddam Hussein to the church in Iraq, which reminded me of the way church leaders in communist Romania were praising Ceausescu, the dictatorial leader of the country, for the great religious freedom we/they had . One of the four, the head of the Protestant Church in Iraq at the time, was also a general in Saddam’s army. I have heard that after the war he published in the US a book on Iraq. I am sure his message there was radically different from what I have heard. This illustrates the first problem of the church in MENA as presented by Martin. Continue reading “How Should the Church Respond to the Arab Uprisings – An East European Perspective”

A New Message from A Pastor in Aleppo, Syria

Dear friends

Today, Tuesday, started as a terrifying day.

After a difficult Sunday morning, the rest of the day was good, and we gathered in the church at 6p.m for our Sunday worship. As well Monday was quiet day in general.

We woke up at 5.45 A.m. because of shooting very close to where we live, then it turned into a real battle, with heavy guns and explosions, and a very loud shouting of Allah wa Akbar – God is great! Continue reading “A New Message from A Pastor in Aleppo, Syria”

Christians Flee from Radical Rebels in Syria – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Christians Flee from Radical Rebels in Syria – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Thousands of Syrians are fleeing into neighboring Lebanon — not entirely due to fear of the Assad regime. The country’s minority Christian population is suffering under attacks waged by rebel troops. In the Beqaa Valley in eastern Lebanon, Christian families are finding temporary refuge, but they are still terrified.

Syria repeats the scenario in Iraq. Christian communities are the great losers in this conflict. And the Christians in the world are doing almost nothing to help.

Military archbishop: US invasion led to fewer Iraqi Christians :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Military archbishop: US invasion led to fewer Iraqi Christians :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

A very sad consequence of war waged by a (supposedly) Christian nation (whatever that means) in a Muslim land.

Enabling Displaced Iraqi Christians to Return – A VERY IMPORTANT DOCUMENT

Some time ago I have initiated a research project on the situation of the refugees that were victims of the violent conflict in Iraq, with an emphasis on religious minorities, particularly Christians.

The study was realised by Midde East Concern and is now available for distribution.

Here is a summary of its findings and recommendations: Continue reading “Enabling Displaced Iraqi Christians to Return – A VERY IMPORTANT DOCUMENT”

The Hostage Story of Heather Mercer

On 9/11, American missionary Heather Mercer was 6,700 miles away from New York City, behind bars in a Kabul, Afghanistan, prison awaiting trial. Weeks earlier in August 2001, the Taliban arrested Mercer and her close friend, Dayna Curry.

The two young women were ministering in Kabul through Shelter Now, a housing outreach organization. In one of the most dramatic stories of the 9/11 era, the Taliban put them and other Western missions staff on trial for spreading Christianity in the Muslim-majority nation.

Weeks later as the Taliban regime was under attack, anti-Taliban fighters freed all of them. Mercer and Curry returned to the U.S. and the Bush White House hosted a celebration of their freedom. In 2003, Mercer decided to relocate to Kurdistan, the autonomous area of northern Iraq. In 2008, she founded Global Hope, a U.S.-based ministry to northern Iraqis. Now married to an Iraqi Christian, she and her husband divide their time between a home in Texas and Kurdistan. Timothy C. Morgan, CT deputy managing editor, interviewed Mercer recently about the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and her goals for Global Hope. Continue reading “The Hostage Story of Heather Mercer”

‘Religicide’ in Iraq

A ringing doorbell at the Baghdad home of an elderly Christian couple seemed innocent enough five days after Christmas. But when Fawzi Rahim, 76, and wife Janet Mekha, 78, opened their front door, a bomb exploded and took their lives.

The suspected militant attack was one of several on December 30, 2010, when 14 other Christians in Baghdad were seriously injured in their homes. The violence followed the October 31 attack on a Baghdad Syriac Catholic cathedral that killed 68 people, and a declaration by the Islamic State of Iraq, a terrorist group, that it was waging war on Christians.

The militant group claims that Egypt’s Coptic Church is holding two women captive because they converted to Islam. Coptic leaders deny the allegations. Analysts believe the militants are using the “Egyptian women” as a pretext to attack Iraq’s besieged Christian community. Continue reading “‘Religicide’ in Iraq”

Iraqi church leaders call for atmosphere of security in Iraq

Iraqi church leaders call for atmosphere of security in Iraq.

Let us remember in our prayers the Christians in Iraq.

Let Us Remember in Prayer the Muted Christians in Iraq

While we celebrate in freedom the incarnation of our Lord, let us remember the Iraqi Christians, who live under fear and cannot enjoy the freedom we have.

(I thank Joseph Cumming for this link.)

Christians flee central Iraq


Church in Baghdad where 70 people were killed in October 2010
(Source of picture BBCNews)

The UN refugee agency says thousands of Iraqi Christians are fleeing from central provinces of the country.

They are seeking refuge in the relatively safe Kurdish-controlled region in the north. Continue reading “Christians flee central Iraq”

Gary Burge on Christian Martyrs in the Middle East

One of the most precious artifacts I have in my office isn’t an ancient coin or oil lamp. It is a business card. From northern Iraq.

Monther Al-Saka handed it to me just after I preached a  sermon in his church, Mosul’s Evangelical Presbyterian Church. They served fried chicken after worship (”Don’t all Americans love fried chicken?” he asked), we exchanged hugs, and I went on my way. But on Dec. 1, 2006, Monther was martyred — for being a Christian leader in the chaos we now call Iraq. He was standing on the front porch of the church — he had been warned by Sunni extremists to flee or die, but he stood his ground. And a bullet from a car met him on a Sunday morning. Continue reading “Gary Burge on Christian Martyrs in the Middle East”

In Solidarity with Iraqi Christians

My World Vision colleague Dave Robinson has just received the following message:

Respected Mr David A. Robinson,

I pray to God Almighty that this email finds you and all your loved ones in the best of health.

The Al-Khoei Foundation in London organised a memorial ceremony in solidarity with victims of terrorist attacks throughout the world, in
particular the horrific massacre, which targeted our Christian brothers and sisters whilst they were worshipping at Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. This was held on Saturday 13th November. Continue reading “In Solidarity with Iraqi Christians”

A Muslim scholar on the Christians in Iraq

Thought for the Day, 16 November 2010

Prof. Mona Siddiqui

When watching tv images of war-torn areas, I have often wondered what it would be like to survive in a country going through real conflict. For I have never lived in a society which is fragmented, torn or divided through war or hatred. I’ve never felt that my house might be snatched away from me or that one day I may be forced to run, start all over again in a distant land surrounded by strange faces and unfamiliar voices. Continue reading “A Muslim scholar on the Christians in Iraq”

Priest in Bagdhad – ‘People are so scared’


Andrew White, Anglican priest in Bagdhad

Greetings from Baghdad.

The new slaughter of the Christians here in Iraq continues in the last hour there have been 12 attacks on Christian homes in Baghdad. All are at risk, there is nothing we can do to guarantee safety. We can though pray and from tomorrow we are starting three days of fasting.

People are so very frightened. Frightened for their lives. Last week’s massacre is still being felt and there is no sense of security whatsoever. Their future is uncertain. Continue reading “Priest in Bagdhad – ‘People are so scared’”

Iraqi Church Leaders Call for End to Violence


(Source of picture: New York Times)

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Following the double bombing of a convoy of buses carrying Christian students and university workers, the General Secretariat of the Council of the Christian Church Leaders of Iraq (CCCLI) invited members of the Council to convene in emergency session in Qaraqosh. The attack near Mosul in northern Iraq on Sunday 2 May 2010 destroyed three buses and partially damaged two others. One person was killed, and 188 were seriously injured. The buses fell victim to a car bomb and an improvised explosive device (IED) as they traveled from the district of Hamdaniya centre to the University of Mosul.

Continue reading “Iraqi Church Leaders Call for End to Violence”

WCC welcomes new Iraqi council of church leaders

“With great hope and deep satisfaction” the World Council of Churches (WCC) has welcomed the news that a Council of Christian Church Leaders of Iraq has been established.

“In our view, it is a development that augurs as much for the future of the churches in Iraq as it does for Iraq as a nation,” the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit wrote in an 18 February congratulatory message to the members of the new body.

The council includes all patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and heads of churches in Iraq from the 14 Christian communities registered in Iraq since 1982, belonging to the Catholic, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox as well as Protestant traditions. Continue reading “WCC welcomes new Iraqi council of church leaders”