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Iraq's Christians facing persecution
According to The Daily Telegraph of London, about 700,000 Chaldean Christians and more than a million Assyrian Christians live in Iraq. Operation World suggests that those figures are highly inflated, and says there are only 358,281 Christians in the country total (about 22,000 are identified as evangelicals). David Barrett's World Christian Encyclopedia splits the difference, counting 730,774 Christians (74,800 evangelicals) among the population of 22,946,245.

In any case, Christianity has been decreasing in the country (Operation World says by about 0.9% a year), and it's getting worse now that Saddam Hussein has been deposed, says the Telegraph.

"We had a very good situation until the fundamentalists began to appear and we were affected," Roger William told the British paper. "They changed the idea of Christians among the people, and from then on we have suffered. Because America and Britain are Christian countries, they blame us for the war. We are terrified. We really don't know what the future will hold."

Christians are also under fire because they're the ones who generally run the restaurants and shops that sell alcohol. "I do not dare to reopen my shops," David Younan Oro, William's father-in-law, said. "Since the war the people here have to rely on tribes for protection of their businesses. We have no tribe."

Local priest Charlemagne Shmool says at least one of his parishioners has been killed by local Muslims. "The fundamentalists have put pressure on us as never before," he said. "Within 10 years there will be no Christians in this area. We will be finished."

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November 2003

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