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Christians Urged to Quit Iraq

London (AFP) -- Iraq's Christians should leave the country or face being killed at the hands of al-Qaeda, an Iraqi Christian leader insisted here on Sunday.

"If they stay they will be finished, one by one," Archbishop Athanasios Dawood told the BBC in an interview after reportedly making a similar appeal at the Syrian Orthodox Church in London.

Al-Qaeda last week warned that Christians everywhere were "legitimate targets" in the wake of a recent bloodbath at a Baghdad church.

The group had already said its gunmen were behind a hostage-taking at a Baghdad cathedral a week ago that ended in the deaths of 46 worshippers, including two priests.

"Our people now in Iraq, they are living in danger. No protection, no support, nobody looks after them," London-based Dawood told the BBC.

"Which is better for us. To stay and be killed or emigrate to another place and to live in peace?"

Dawood appealed to EU countries to grant asylum to Iraqi Christians.

"The Christians know they don't have any place in their country. We need their support."


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