Iraq’s Christians ‘close to extinction’
The Archbishop of Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, has accused Britain’s Christian leaders of failing to do enough in defence of the vanishing Christian community in Iraq.
In an impassioned address in London, the Rt Rev Bashar Warda said Iraq’s Christians now faced extinction after 1,400 years of persecution.
Since the US-led invasion toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003, he said, the Christian community had dwindled by 83%, from around 1.5 million to just 250,000.
“Christianity in Iraq,” he said, “one of the oldest Churches, if not the oldest Church in the world, is perilously close to extinction. Those of us who remain must be ready to face martyrdom.”
He referred to the current, pressing threat from Islamic State (IS) jihadists as a “final, existential struggle”, following the group’s initial assault in 2014 that displaced more than 125,000 Christians from their historic homelands.
“Our tormentors confiscated our present,” he said, “while seeking to wipe out our history and destroy our future. In Iraq there is no redress for those who have lost properties, homes and businesses. Tens of thousands of Christians have nothing to show for their life’s work, for generations of work, in places where their families have lived, maybe, for thousands of years.”