As a Christian and Iraqi American, I am horrified, heartbroken and frustrated at the cold-heartedness, especially by Christians regarding the plight of the Iraqi Christians. How many Iraqi Christians must die and abandon their ancestral land and have their churches bombed by the hands of Iraqi Muslims for the world to interfere and stop this religious cleansing?
If the Iraqi Christians are facing these atrocities right now while the mighty U.S. army and the coalition forces are in Iraq, one could not imagine (frankly I and thousands of Iraqi Christians could imagine) what would happen to the Iraqi Christians when the troops pull out of Iraq.
The outcome will be total Sunnis and Shiites collaboration to force Iraqi Christians out of their territories. It could also be translated as extermination of a people from their ancestral land.
"Already half of Baghdad's Christian communities have fled the capital; Basra is almost emptied of an ancient vibrant Christian presence; already, eight priests have been kidnapped...nowhere is safe for Christians to be in Iraq," writes Bishop Sarhad Jammo, the Chaldean Catholic Bishop of San Diego on the Diocese webpage.
According to AsiaNews.it, a Rome based agency, Iraqi Christians are facing persecution from the Islamic Shiites and Sunnis extremists who are forcing Christian women to wear the veil and some extremists go further to impose the "jisya" (religious taxation) on Christians. These are some of the cruel and callous regulations the 7th century Islamic Sharia law imposes on people who live under Islam.
On June 3, a Chaldean Catholic priest and three subdeacons were gunned down by Muslim terrorists after they left the church of the Holy Spirit in Mosel on Sunday, according to a report by the Catholic News Service (CNS). They were killed because they were Christians and that is enough evidence for the Islamic terrorists to kill any Christian in Iraq.
The Iraqi Christians consider themselves to be the offspring and the heirs of the two great ancient civilizations, the Babylonian and the Assyrian. History testifies to the contributions these people brought to humanity. The Iraqi Christians were among the first people to adhere to the message of the gospel and pioneer missionaries to the outside world according to the Catholic tradition. Throughout their existence the Iraqi Christians have contributed to the greatness of Iraq in every aspect. They translated Greek writings into Syriac and Arabic and they were advisers to Muslim rulers. Today these courageous people are fighting for their existence and equality in the so-called "new-free Iraq", not by weapons and terror, rather, by peace, love, and infinite contribution to their country.
It is sad to say that today many Iraqi Christians feel nostalgic to the days of the dictator Saddam; at least they were living under a secular ruler. Now, Iraqi Christians have to live under the inhuman 7th century Islamic Sharia law.
The U.S. government supported the new Iraqi constitution that clearly infringes the rights of non-Muslims. The second article of the new Iraqi constitution says: "Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation." This unmistakably demotes Iraqi Christians to the second citizen status and puts them under the mercy of the inhuman Sharia law.
"The whole reason we're in Iraq is to try to build a country in which all the people of Iraq can lead a peaceful life," the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Francis Rooney said to the Catholic News Service. But the Vatican disagrees.
Vatican officials maintain that since the U.S. involvement in Iraq in 2003, the Iraqi Christians have "faced increasing violence and discrimination," according to the Catholic News Service. Any reasonable human would agree, and Iraqi Christians would say the same thing the Vatican says.
The U.S. government did make a difference in Iraq when they removed Saddam from power, but that success was transient and perhaps, they did not realize they have replaced Saddam with a bigger tyrant; Islamic fundamentalism. After all I think the U.S. "did not build a country in which all the people of Iraq can lead a peaceful life," as the U.S. ambassador Rooney plainly aforementioned. Instead, Iraq is a country where criminals, terrorists, and religious discrimination roam freely.
What now? Since we cannot go back to fix what had happened, we need to move forward (do not tell Muslim fundamentalists this, they love going backward) to help the Iraqi Christians by bringing their cause to the world attention. It is time for the apathetic Christians to wake up from their slumber and take action and to come to the aid of their brothers and sisters in Iraq. It is time to let the Iraqi Christians know they are not alone and their lives are invaluable. "At this point, impressions and attitudes of good-will cannot suffice," Bishop Sarhad alarms us of the calamity of the situation in Iraq. It time to activate our faith and put it to work and action as the Bible says "faith without work is dead" (James 2).
I suggest we should let the policy makers in Washington D.C. know how outrageous we are about the devastating situation the Iraqi Christians face in Iraq. We need to send letters of concern to the United Nations, to ask them to interfere to stop this religious cleansing. We have to ask the Vatican to do more for the Iraqi Christians, to interfere on their behalf and condemn fundamental Islamic teachings. Finally, let us pray and ask God to give the Iraqi Christians patience, courage and to strengthen their immovable faith. Let us also pray for their murderers, hoping that they will stop their ideology of hatred and superiority.
Throughout history, humans have demonstrated their goodness, love and tolerance and stood against evil everywhere. I believe we will do the same for the Iraqi Christians and we won't let religious hatred overcome us. The more we speak against evil and the more spiritually united we are, the faster we will react to find a solution for the plight of the Iraqi Christians. If not, hundreds of people will die and thousands others will lose their ancestral lands and become refugees for the world to deal with.
Mr. Dawood is an Iraqi Christian, SDSU student, Santee, California.