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Christians' fear grows in Iraq

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Fear and shock today are the dominant feeling among the Christians of Mosul, according to a Chaldean priest of the local church, requesting anonymity for security reasons.
The ferocity and horror of the "truly cold-blooded murders" of four Christians in the last four days seem to have left their mark on the community of believers. "It is an ethnic cleansing that goes on day after day, in silence and indifference. We are in deep distress as the authorities and the police do nothing to stop this massacre," he notes.

People feel a sense of desperation that forces many families to leave Iraq, to emigrate with the hope of saving their children: "Mosul has become a graveyard for Christians; it's terrible," the priest said with sorrow.

The murders occurred in broad daylight: on February 14, Rayan Salem Elias, 43, a Chaldean store owner, was killed. The next day, Mounir Fatoukhi, another shop owner, age 40, was stopped by unknown persons while he was in his car and shot dead. On February 16, two Christian Assyrians who were cousins - Ziya Toma, age 21 and Ramsen Shmael, age 22, both students, were hit in the center of the city by bursts of gunfire. The first died instantly and the other is seriously injured, with little hope of survival. On February 17, Wissam George, a 20-year-old Christian, was shot to death in the neighborhood south of the city. "It's a trail of blood that knows no limits, and the murders take place with impunity. We are helpless victims. One reads the terror in the eyes of Christian families who are wondering: Who is going to be next?” our source said.

Some analysts say the violence is in some way related to the upcoming elections and the rise of extremism, but it seems clear that "some groups want to decimate the Christians in Mosul," according to some obscure political plan.

Archbishop Sleiman, the Latin Archbishop of Baghdad, issued a warning asking to "break the silence about Christian Iraqis," noting "a new exodus of faithful from the country, forced to flee the prevailing radicalism." Since 2008, there have been at least 40 targeted assassinations. In Mosul, there are over 18,000 Chaldean Catholics and about 40,000 Syrian Catholics. However, in the last two years at least 12,000 faithful have left the city and the Christian presence is thinning.

Source: FIDES

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