Recent deadly attacks on Christian communities by suspected Al-Qaida militants in Iraq drew condemnation by the European Parliament on Thursday (25 November). The worst in a series of attacks was the attack on the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad at the start of November which left up to 50 worshippers dead. In a resolution MEPs condemned this and other atrocities against minorities. MEPs also called on the Iraqi security forces to do all it can to protect religious communities.
MEPs also restated their opposition to the death penalty recently imposed on former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and Abed Hamoud, former Private Secretary to Saddam Hussein. They called on the Iraqi authorities to reconsider the death penalty and said that his execution will do little to improve the climate of violence in Iraq, which is in dire need of national reconciliation.
Support Iraqi peoples' stand against extremists
In the resolution MEPs emphasised the need "to protect the right of all religious groups to gather and worship freely" and express confidence that the Iraqi people "will remain steadfast in their continued rejection of efforts by extremists to spark sectarian tension".
MEPs also expressed their sympathy and solidarity with the victims of the attacks and their families.
The attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church was the latest in a spate of attacks on Iraq's ancient communities of Christians - Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs - who are among the descendants of ancient empires of Assyria and Babylonia who adopted Christianity in the 1st century. Since the US-led invasion of the country in March 2003, hundreds of thousands have fled to neighbouring countries in fear of their lives.