Another Baghdad Massacre: Iraqi Christians Are Already at Home

On Sunday, October 31, when a group of militants seized a church in Baghdad, killing and wounding scores of Iraqi Christians, it signaled yet another episode of unimaginable horror in the country since the US invasion of March 2003. Every group of Iraqis has faced terrible devastation as a result of this war, the magnitude of which is only now beginning to be discovered.

True, the situation in Iraq was difficult prior to the war. Having visited the country in 1999, I can testify to this. But the hardship suffered by many Iraqis, especially political dissidents, was in some way typical characteristic of authoritarian and dictatorial regimes. Iraq could, at that time, be easily contrasted with other countries living under similar hardships. But what has happened since the war can barely be compared to any other country or any other wars since World War II. Even putting aside the devastating death toll, the sheer scale of internal displacement and forced emigration is terrifying. This is a nation that had more or less maintained a consistent level of demographic cohesion for many generations. It was this cohesion that made Iraq what it was.

Iraqi Christians communities had co-existed alongside their Muslim neighbors for hundreds of years. The churches of the two main Christian groups, the Assyrians and Chaldeans are dated back to the years A.D. 33 and 34 respectively. A recent editorial in an Arab newspaper was entitled “Arab Christians should feel at home.” As moving as the article was, the fact is, the fact remains that Arab Christians should not have to feel at home – they already are at home. Their roots dates back to the days of Jesus Christ, and since then they have maintained a unique identity and proud history under the most difficult of circumstances.

I recall a group of Iraqi children from a Chaldeans school dressed up in beautiful dark blue uniforms performing the morning nashids (songs) before going to class. They were so innocent and full of life. Their eyes spoke of promise and excitement about the future. I dread to imagine how many of these children were killed, wounded or forcefully displaced with their families, like millions of other Iraqis from all ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Today merely half of Iraq’s Christians are still living in the country, when compared to the 1987 census which listed 1.4 million Iraqi Christians. The number, following the most recent killings which resulted from Iraqi forces storming the church and exchanging fire with the kidnappers, is dwindling rapidly. The plight of Iraqi Christians seems very similar to that of Palestinian Christians, whose numbers have plummeted and continue to fall following the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. The Palestinian Christian Diaspora was a direct outcome of the Israeli occupation and the original takeover of historic Palestine in 1948. The Israeli government sees no difference between a Palestinian Christian and a Muslim.

But none of this was deemed worthy of discussion in much of the Western media, perhaps because it risked hurting the sensibility of the Israeli occupier. The troubling news coming from Iraq can now be manipulated by presenting the suffering of Christians as an offshoot of a larger conflict between Islamic militants and Christians communities in Iraq.

The fact is that Iraqi society has long been known for its tolerance and acceptance of minorities. There were days when no one used such references as Shai, Sunni and Christians; there was one Iraq and one Iraqi people. This has completely changed, for part of the strategy following the invasion of Iraq was to emphasize and manipulate the ethnic and religious demarcation of the country, creating insurmountable divides. Without a centralized power to guide and channel the collective responses of the Iraqi people, all hell broke loose. Masked men with convenient militant names but no identities disappeared as quickly as they popped up to wreak havoc in the country. The communal trust that held together the fabric of the Iraqi society during the hardest of times dissolved. Utter chaos and mistrust took over, and the rest is history.

There is no question regarding the brutality and sheer wickedness of those who caused the recent murder of 52 Iraqi Christians, including a priest, in Baghdad’s main Roman Catholic church. But to confuse the issue as one between Muslims and Christians, or as a UPI report misleadingly put it – “Iraq’s Christians caught between majority Shiite and minority Sunni Muslims” – is a major injustice. It is also dangerous, for when such notions become acceptable, it enables foreign powers to justify their continued presence in Iraq on the premise that they are there to protect those ‘caught’ in the middle. In fact, for hundreds of years, every colonial power in the Middle East has used such logic to rationalize their violence and exploitation.

Indeed, there are many who are ready to use such tragedies to serve their political interests or to retrospectively validate their wanton action in Iraq. This arrogant mentality compelled Republican strategist Jack Burkman in an Aljazeera English program last May to describe the people of the Middle East as “a bunch of barbarians in the desert.”

Such hubris is further strengthened by such killings as the one that targeted Iraqi Christians. A US solider in Iraq, quoted on a recent Democracy Now program referred to Iraqi culture as a “culture of violence”, boasting that his country was trying to do something about this.

Where is the soul-searching and reflection that might ask what brought this ‘culture of violence’ to the surface? What will it take to see the “bunch of barbarians” as simply human beings who, like any other, are trying to survive, fend for their families and maintain an element of normality and dignity in their lives?

As for “Iraq’s Christians”, I must disagree with that depiction which is used widely in the media. They are not Iraq’s Christians, but Iraqi Christians. Their roots are as deep as the history of Mesopotamia, their history as rich as the fertile soil of Tigris and Euphrates. No matter how far their numbers may dwindle, like the rest of Iraqis of all backgrounds, they will remain Iraqis. And their return to their country is only a matter of time.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons (Clarity Press). Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs, Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). Read other articles by Ramzy, or visit Ramzy's website.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. MichaelKenny said on November 11th, 2010 at 8:55am #

    Small piece of additional information: the church in question belonged to the Syriac Catholic Church, one of the 34 eastern rites of the Catholic Church.

  2. mary said on November 11th, 2010 at 12:07pm #

    Well said Mr Baroud and I truly wish that your last sentence comes true..

    You wouldn’t think that Blair, the co-architect for this terrible catastrophe in Iraq, could sink any lower. Well he has, and Felicity Arbuthnot has written this scathing piece about his latest speaking engagement. He has no morals, scruples or conscience, the hallmarks of a true psychopath.

  3. shabnam said on November 11th, 2010 at 2:50pm #

    Mr. Baroud:
    Why are you so POLIT not to give more information about these killings which is available in English and other languages? You write:

    {On Sunday, October 31, when a group of militants seized a church in Baghdad, killing and wounding scores of Iraqi Christians, it signaled yet another episode of unimaginable horror in the country since the US invasion of March 2003.}

    Why are these killings taking place? Don’t you think the way they kill Christians, Turmen, Arabs in north of Iraq is similar to massacre of Palestinians by the Zionists in their onwn land to expand the ‘Jewish tribe’? Now, they do it to expand the Kurdish tribe.

    Do you, like ignorant Americans, believe the lies of the Zionist media that al Qaeda, WHERE DOES NOT EXIST, is responsible for these killings?

    The report is very confusing to me. I still don’t know WHAT DID HAPPENED TO THESE TERRORISTS? Do you know? Another report says:

    {At least 58 people were killed, including 12 policemen as well as five bystanders thought to have been killed by the car bombing and blasts outside the church before the attackers stormed inside. Forty-one Christians inside the church also died, including two priests.}

    In some circle they spread the rumor that hostages were killed by a ‘suicide bomber’ which is a LIE.
    When the US and Saudi Arabia killed Al Hakim at the Masque in 2005, after illegal and savage invasion of Iraq, they spread the rumors that “a suicide bomber was responsible’ where later became clear that it was a CAR BOMB WITH REMOTE CONTROL that killed Hakim along with 400 other Shiites, not a suicide bomber. Then, they framed a non-existent entity, al Qaeda responsible for the terror.

    The killing of Iraqi Christians, Turkmen, and Arabs is taking place because they live in their ancestral land for centuries and now is wanted by the Judeo fascists and their pawns, the Kurdish terrorists. They want to copy the zionist project in northern Iraq to erect “greater Israel”.
    Question: “What is the land that “God promised” to Israel?”

    With Genesis 15:18 and Joshua 1:4 in mind, the land God gave to Israel included everything from the Nile river in Egypt to Lebanon (North to South) and everything from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River (West to East). So, what land has God stated belongs to Israel? All of the land modern Israel currently possesses, plus all of the land of the Palestinians (the West Bank and Gaza), plus some of Egypt and Syria, plus all of Jordan, plus some of Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Israel currently possesses only a fraction of the land God has promised.

    Christians have inhabited what is modern day Iraq for about 2,000 years, tracing their ancestry to ancient Mesopotamia and surrounding lands.
    Christians live in the capital, Baghdad, and are also concentrated in the northern cities of Kirkuk, Irbil and Mosul – once a major Mesopotamian trading hub known as Nineveh in the Bible. Most Iraqi Christians are Chaldeans, Eastern-rite Catholics who are autonomous from Rome. Chaldeans are an ancient people, some of whom still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

    This kind of killing has happened earlier to not only Christians but also to Turkmen, Arabs and Yazidi (Zoroasrians).
    Corey Flintoff in October 28, 2008 reports:

    In northern Iraq, thousands of Christian families remain displaced from their homes in the city of Mosul. Many are living with relatives or taking refuge in churches and monasteries in an area north of the city that’s known as the Nineveh Plain.
    In northern Iraq, thousands of Christian families remain displaced from their homes in the city of Mosul.
    Many are living with relatives or taking refuge in churches and monasteries in an area north of the city that’s known as the Nineveh Plain. Then the killing started.
    My brother came home from work that day,” says a 44-year-old Christian man identifying himself only as Abu Sara. “He went to a nearby shop, where suddenly gunmen turned up and asked him for his ID. Then they told his friends to step aside. They shot him dead and left.”

    Why would the Kurdistan regional government be involved in attacking Christians in Mosul, yet protecting them once they’ve been displaced to the Nineveh Plain area?

    “The Nineveh Plain is these people’s ancestral homeland,” says Michael Youash, director of the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project, based in Washington, D.C. “But in today’s Iraq, it is an area being contested by the Kurdistan Regional Government, seeking to absorb that area into an expanded KRG, and these people are caught in the middle of it.”

    According to other report:
    Israeli expansionists, their intentions to take full control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and permanently keep the Golan Heights of Syria and expand into southern Lebanon already well known, also have their eyes on parts of Iraq considered part of a biblical “Greater Israel.”
    Israel reportedly has plans to relocate thousands of Kurdish Jews from Israel, including expatriates from Kurdish Iran, to the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Nineveh under the guise of religious pilgrimages to ancient Jewish religious shrines. According to Kurdish sources, the Israelis are secretly working with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to carry out the integration of Kurdish and other Jews into areas of Iraq under control of the KRG.
    Kurdish, Iraqi Sunni Muslims, and Turkmen have noted that Kurdish Israelis began to buy land in Iraqi Kurdistan, after the U.S. invasion in 2003, that is considered historical Jewish “property.”

    All people of the region must be united against the invaders and their PAWNS.

  4. shabnam said on November 11th, 2010 at 3:23pm #

    According to

    {The relationship between the Christians of northern Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government is complicated. Kurdish authorities portray their land as a safe haven for all minority groups. But local Sunni Arab politicians, and some Christians as well, have accused Kurdish militias of driving Assyrians out of their homes in the contested zone to the southwest of the Kurdish autonomous region. Christian groups are now asking for their own zone of autonomy, although their likelihood of gaining one seems slim indeed.

    The Kurds and the Assyrians have a history of troubled relations. The Ottoman-sponsored massacres of Assyrians during World War I were largely carried out by Kurdish irregular forces. At the time, Kurds and Assyrians competed for lands and resources, and the empty British promises that the Assyrians would be politically rewarded if they fought the Ottoman Empire did not sit well with local Kurds. The rise to power of the Iraqi Baath party in the 1960s transformed the political situation of both Kurds and Christians. Under a hard-core Arab nationalist state, the Kurds, who had long cultivated their own national identity, found themselves under assault. But the Assyrians, whose own national aspirations had been crushed by the massacres of the early 20th century, generally acquiesced to the Baath regime and lived in relative peace.
    The situation changed dramatically with decline and fall of Saddam Hussein. The Kurds were able establish “the other Iraq”: a generally secure area.
    In March 2010, the elected head of Nineveh Governorate in northern Iraq, Atheel al-Nujaifi, charged Kurdish militias with forcing non-Muslims out of the contested zone so that it could be more easily annexed by the Kurdistan Regional Government. In a letter sent to the European Union and the United Nations, he demanded an international inquiry into attacks in and around the city of Mosul. Leader of a largely Sunni Arab voting block, Al-Nujaifi claimed that, “Those opposing the Kurdish agenda are persecuted, threatened, arrested and even liquidated.”

    Kurdish leaders have denied the charges, claiming that “al-Qaeda-aligned militias” are to blame. They note al-Nujaifi’s hostility toward Kurdish interests. Although al-Nujaifi denies accusations of anti-Kurdish bigotry, he steadfastly opposes expansion of the Kurdish autonomous region, and crows that the Kurds are bound to fail in their quest for additional territory.

    In 2009, the Kurdish Regional Government’s representative in the United Kingdom released a report on the conditions of Christians in the autonomous territory, written in response to earlier allegations of anti-Christian actions by Kurdish armed forces.
    The report stresses the facts that more than 20,000 Iraqi Christian families have found refuge in the autonomous region, that several Christians have reached high positions in the Kurdish administration, and that the Kurdish government has been rebuilding churches and Christian villages.
    Christian organizations in Iraq have put forward their own plans for a sphere of self-government, perhaps in conjunction with other religious minorities. The focus of such efforts is the Nineveh Plains, to the northeast of Mosul. Some Christians have insisted that any such autonomous area must be independent of the Kurdish Regional Government, and have accused Kurdish authorities of “intimidating Assyrian political and religious leaders to sign a letter stating they wanted the Nineveh Plains to be annexed to the Kurdish Regional Government.”
    Another proposed zone of Christian autonomy would encompass not just the Nineveh Plains, but also a large swath of mostly Kurdish-inhabited territory along the border with Turkey.}

    The Kurds and the Zionists want these areas under Kurdish control (read Zionist control) and are against any autonomous region for Christians.

  5. shabnam said on November 11th, 2010 at 8:07pm #

    Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis writes:

    The pattern is allover the world the same; Anglo-French Freemasonic Orientalists created fake nations to project them on numerous indigenous peoples on whom they assign as leaders earlier selected terrorists and thugs, who have been first hired, trained as terrorists, and made financially dependent (on their masters in Paris, London and Washington), and later exported (like Talabani and Barzani in Iraq) to play the next act´s role, performing according to their masters´ orders.
    The Anglo-French Freemasonic Orientalists are the enemies of the Humankind.
    The method by which this was achieved was the early creation of a false nation, named Arabs. In fact, there are no Arabs. All those on whom the fake, fabricated identity of ´Arabs´ was projected are Hamitic Berbers of N – NW Africa, Copts and Nubians of Egypt, Kushitic Sudanese, Phoenicians of the area of the Lebanon mounts, Aramaeans of the wider Asiatic part of the Middle East, and Yemenites – who also are not ´Arabs´. As a matter of fact, Arabs are only the inhabitants of Hedjaz, part of today´s Saudi Arabia´s territory.

    The same method is now applied for the targeted parts of Western Iran, Northern Iraq, SE Turkey, and Eastern Syria. The Apostate Freemasonic Lodge that secretively controls the pseudo-democratic regimes of Paris, London and Washington intends to usher the entire world into a nightmare of a terrorist state – generator of wars in the Middle East and Caucasus regions, and perpetrator of prospective genocides.

    To do so, they have created, and have been marketing for a while, the fake notion of a Kurdish nation.

    Kurds do not exist.
    The problems are created by the infrastructure prepared by the gangsters of Talabani and Barzani who bribe various local people originating from all the aforementioned different ethnic groups, promise them great positions in the administration of the forthcoming, “guaranteed by France, England and the US”, terrorist, state Kurdistan, and thus gain them to their evil cause. They form the nucleus of the terrorist, “Kurdish” army that will turn the entire Middle East to a nightmare far worse than Gaza, Darfur, Somalia or Afghanistan.
    All liars who call themselves Kurds are indeed responsible for the recent terrorist acts against the Aramaean Christians in Mosul. To shed more light on the terrible deterioration of the situation, I republish an insightful from the Aramaean portal Aram Nahrin, and several other news and features quoted there.

    The Arameans of Iraq again Victims of Killings and Bloodbaths.

  6. shabnam said on November 11th, 2010 at 8:08pm #

    Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis continues:

    They are at it again in the northern Iraqi city Mosul! Within two days fife Arameans were killed. On Tuesday 16th of February two Aramean students Zia Toma and Ramsin Shmael were killed in Mosul. On the same day two other Christian Arameans were killed, shopkeeper Mr. Fatukhi Munir and Rayan Salem Elias.
    On Wednesday 17th of February the body of 20 years of age Aramean student Wissam George was found in the streets of Mosul.

    The situation for the Aramean nation in Iraq, in particular in Mosul gets worse by the day. The Arameans find themselves in a very weak position where they depend on protection by the central government. Because of bad functioning security apparatus the Arameans do not get the necessary protection. The security forces who should protection our nation remain passive when members of our nation being killed.
    The Arameans of Iraq, also known as “Assyrians” or Chaldeans, find themselves in a difficult position, are heavily divided and therefore are a easy prey for the various political and religious groups who target the peaceful-minded Arameans; since thousands of years present in this part of the world. Some media point the finger to Al-Qaeada and other Jehadist groups for killings and attacks. This however does not necessary have to be true, because there are also other forces who, for various reasons, might be responsible for these attacks to ethnically cleanse Aram-Nahrin of its original Aramean inhabitants.

    A dramatic appeal:

    A Aramean priest in Mosul says, “We don’t want elections, we don’t want representatives, we don’t want our rights, we just want to be alive”

  7. shabnam said on November 11th, 2010 at 8:47pm #

    Another Israel
    Kurds and Jews share a similar “history” and a common enemy

    Kurds are spying for Mossad since 1960s.

    Political relations began in 1965, when David Kimche, one of the founding fathers of the Mossad, visited Kurdistan to meet with Mullah Mustafa Barzani, Massoud Barzani’s father and then-leader of the Kurds. The meeting came at the behest of the senior Barzani, who was seeking outside support for his people’s fight against the military regime that ruled the country.

    http://www dot

  8. shabnam said on November 11th, 2010 at 8:49pm #

    Another Israel
    Kurds and Jews share a similar “history” and a common enemy

    Kurds are spying for Mossad since 1960s.

    Political relations began in 1965, when David Kimche, one of the founding fathers of the Mossad, visited Kurdistan to meet with Mullah Mustafa Barzani, Massoud Barzani’s father and then-leader of the Kurds. The meeting came at the behest of the senior Barzani, who was seeking outside support for his people’s fight against the military regime that ruled the country.

    ww dot

  9. hayate said on November 11th, 2010 at 10:18pm #

    From the article:

    “But what has happened since the war can barely be compared to any other country or any other wars since World War II. Even putting aside the devastating death toll, the sheer scale of internal displacement and forced emigration is terrifying.”

    Never forget that that Iraq war was ordained in tel aviv and that this war crime was a zionist/israeli project to benefit israel. That doesn’t let the american fascists involved in this war crime off the hook, but making sure the israeli/zionist source of this war is well known will expose the ziofascists and maybe prevent them starting further wars under cover of some other sleazy patsy. Both patsies and master need to fry, not just the patsies, if we are going to put an end to these disgusting crimes.

  10. mary said on November 16th, 2010 at 2:13am #

    Hayate Have you come across this article which links Mossad to all the mayhem?

  11. shabnam said on November 16th, 2010 at 7:13am #

    {Al-Qaeda doesn’t exist. It should be reiterated for emphasis: Al-Qaeda. Does. Not. Exist. Even the atrociously pro-Israel apologist news agency known as BBC has admitted this undeniable fact through a documentary it released, in which CIA agents admit that the ‘terror’ organization is a sheer fabrication.}

    Mary: thank you for the link. I have been saying the same thing for the past few years at this site. In addition, Ben Ladin was killed in 2001. Benazir Bhutto, her husband and Pervez Musharraf said the same thing. So, to bring Osama Ben Ladin to justice, as McCain or Obama and other liars say, is not does not hold.
    Tony Zzamboti, recently, a member of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, in Fox New interview confirmed that the trade center buildings were fell down by demolition not by plane crash into the buildings, which strengthen the idea that 9/11 was an inside job.

    Why George Bush and his accomplices, responsible for thousands of American deaths and millions Iraqi death are not arrested by the ICC, a Zionist tool, to put on trial as mass murders?