Baghdad Assyrian District Emptied; Churches, Monasteries Abandoned
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(AINA) -- The Reverend Temathaus Eisha, pastor of the Church of St. Shimoni in the besieged1 Dora district of Baghdad, confirmed to that the information published about the forced displacement of Christian Assyrians from their homes in the district is accurate. He added that the conditions were horrible, especially in the Al-Ta'ma, Al-iskan, Al-mo'alimeen, Al-shurTa, Al-sitten, and Asia neighborhoods.

The three remaining neighborhoods that are relatively calm are Hai Al-athuriyeen (Assyrian quarter), Al-jim'iya, and Al-sihha.

The large-scale campaign consists of expelling all Christians, unless they convert to Islam or pay the jizya (AINA 4-17-2007, 3-18-2007), a "protection" tax demanded by the Koran, or leave their homes and belongings.

He added that the majority of Assyrians have abandoned these areas.

Church sermons are being held only in the Church of St. Shimoni in the Assyrian Quarter. The majority of the attendees are elderly who have remained in the area due to commitment to the district or due to lack of ability to flee.

He said that the other churches, such as St. Jacob, St. John, The Apostles Church, St. George, St. Zaya, Mar Mr. Bihnam, St. Mathew, as well as a number of monasteries, are all abandoned.

On the move to stop the exodus, Father Timatheus said, "There are recent moves by a non-governmental organization, to roam in Christian homes and families to register their names and numbers, and urging them [to stay]. However, a solution or an option has not been provided.

In conclusion Father Timatheus urged all parties, religious, political, social, and otherwise to intervene to find a rapid solution to this ordeal.

At the same time, he asked Christian families in Rasafa and other areas that are relatively safer to receive Dora's displaced families into their homes and to assist them temporarily until a more permanent solution is found.

1 See here for more information on Dora: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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