We are witnessing a dramatic increase in attacks against Christians in Iraq over the last few years. Last week, an Iraqi muslim scholar issued a fatwa (legal ruling) which declared it permissible to spill the blood of Christians. The Christian community is being targeted for extinction. In October 2010, fifty-two Christians died and sixty more were injured during an attack on one church. Rafah Butros Tamah, a 44-year-old unmarried woman, was murdered in her home in January of this year. There have been multiple roadside bombings targeting the Christian communities. Even children are being killed.
Following the October 2010 attack, John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, wrote the following. “The Al-Queda linked “Islamic State of Iraq” claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened to exterminate “Iraqi Christians.” This shadowy jihad terror network justified the savagery on religious grounds, claiming the church was an “obscene nest of infidels.”
It is estimated that there were over one million Christians in Iraq before the Iraqi war began. That number dropped to just over one-half million by 2003, to 345,000 by 2010 and is now estimated to be below 250,000. It is believed that as many as 95,000 have left the country since the October 2010 attack. At the current rate of exodus, in three more years there may not be any believers left in the country.
Despite some of the worst persecution in decades, Iraqi Muslims are still coming to Christ. The suffering of believers is a witness to the reality of the truth of the gospel and many are being drawn to the Gospel.
Although the news of this increased persecution is disturbing, it is not surprising. Christians in Muslim-dominated areas have been the target of persecution for years. What is more disturbing is that this is happening in a country that is supposed to be turning into a democracy. Iraq was “liberated” by the United States and this dramatic increase in persecution has taken place under the U.S. occupation. Its cruel dictator, Saddam Hussein, was overthrown and the people were set free. But who are “the people?” They are Muslims who believe that Christians are infidels worthy of death.
As strange as it seems, Christians under the tyranny of Hussein experienced more freedom than they have now. This is not meant to say that we should not have toppled the Hussein regime. But we are deceived if we believe that by doing so, we are “creating democracy and freedom.” In the F.B.I. Report of May 2011, Jay Faubion stated, “Conversely, by empowering the people, the U.S. has unwittingly undone Iraq’s Christian minority. Naively projecting western values on Muslims, U.S. leadership continues to think that people-power will naturally culminate into a liberal, egalitarian society, despite all the evidence otherwise. The fact is, in the Muslim world, majority rule traditionally means domination by the largest tribe or sect. Increasingly it means Islamist domination.”
Thus, we see the people (Muslims) rising to power and behaving as their religious beliefs dictate. One has to ask if the same results will soon be witnessed in Libya, Egypt, Syria and other countries where the people (Muslims) seem to be regaining control of their governments. Will it get worse for the Christians there also?
It behooves us to pray earnestly for these countries. Pray for the Christians to be sustained in their adversity. Pray that Muslims will be impacted by the power of the Gospel as they see it lived out in the lives of the persecuted and that they will convert to Christ. We should also ask God how we might be involved in making a difference there. They do fall under the parameters of our commission to reach “all nations.”