Baghdad (CNA) -- The Patriarch of the Ancient Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Addai II, has called on the Prime Minister and the Iraqi parliament to put an end to the tragic situation that Christians in Iraq are enduring due to the constant threats and attacks against them.
"Those who are in positions of responsibility must put an end to the persecution of Christians because all of us, Muslims and Christians, are part of one family, we are children of the same land," the patriarch said.
"The violence against Christians in Iraq, but especially in Baghdad and Mosul, is against the spirit of Islam,' Mar Addai said, adding his voice to that of the other Patriarchs, Mar Emmanuel III Delly of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Mar Dinkha IV of the Assyrian Orthodox Church of the East and Mar Gregotios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Catholic Church.
"The actions of armed groups are forcing Christians from Baghdad, district by district. After Dora, the violence has become fiercer and has reached the western districts of the capital," the website Baghdadhope reported.
In addition to being subjected to threats, killings, and protection payments, Christians are also being forced to leave their own homes leaving everything behind. The armed militants then force the Christians to pay an "exit fee" of $200 per person and $400 per car, the website explained.
In Dora, Addai II said, "Only the families that agree to give a daughter or sister in marriage to a Muslim can remain, which means that the entire nuclear family will progressively become Muslim." Homes, he said, that are not seized by force are being legally turned over by family members of hostages, who are told that is the only way to see their loved ones released.
"God loves us and protects us and therefore we should not be afraid. He will not leave us alone because we are children of hope, and after the darkness the sun will shine again," Addai II stated.
Analysts worry that the departure of the Christian community from Iraq, which has roots going back to antiquity, could make it more difficult to pacify the country.