A summer of bloody persecution has left Iraq’s diminished Christian community “a million times worse” than it was under ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, said a minister known as the vicar of Baghdad during a visit to Tacoma on Sunday.
“I think it could be one of the worst persecutions of Christians in history,” Canon Andrew White said at Tacoma’s Life Center church.
The Anglican pastor of St. George’s church in Baghdad, he’s visiting the Puget Sound area this week to raise money for the tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians who’ve been driven from their homes by extremist militants in the Islamic State.
Since June, extremist Sunni Muslims have purged Christians from the city of Mosul and other communities in northern Iraq that have had a Christian population for 2,000 years. Militants have ordered Christians toconvert to Islam, leave their communities or be killed.
Now, thousands of Christians are living in schools, churches and refugee camps in Iraq’s Kurdish provinces or trying to get out of Iraq for good. Many of them left their homes with almost nothing as they fled the Islamic State.
“What I saw horrified me,” said Life Center Lead Pastor Dean Curry, who visited refugee camps in northern Iraq in August and invited White to the Tacoma church.
The United Nations estimates that 1.8 million people have been displaced from the homes by fighting in Iraq this year. Sunnis in the Islamic State have pushed hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muslims out of northern Iraq while also persecuting minority Christians and Yazidis. Sunnis who do not want to live under the Islamic State also have fled from their communities in western and northern Iraq.
SOURCE: ADAM ASHTON
The News Tribune