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Five Baghdad Churches Bombed

More Christians are expected to flee the country as their numbers continue to decrease.

Five churches were bombed in Iraq before dawn on Saturday. No one was injured in the attacks, which occurred between 4 and 6 a.m. at churches in four Baghdad neighborhoods.

Three churches were attacked with homemade bombs thrown from a car. The other two bombs were planted inside churches. The attacks occurred at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The same day, leaflets were scattered around Baghdad saying insurgents would attack hard and often throughout the month.

"We didn't expect that in Ramadan innocent people and places of worship would be attacked," said Majed Ismaeel, a 43-year-old furniture maker, as he surveyed the damage at the Saint Tuma Church. "The one who committed this is neither a Muslim nor a Christian, he is not human. We ask the government to fight them and destroy them."

Saint Joseph was the first church hit. Then "flames engulfed the Roman Catholic St. George's church in the central Baghdad district of Karrada, leaving its wood-built sanctuary charred," reports Agence France-Presse.

''It is a criminal act to make Iraq unstable and to create religious difficulties,'' the Rev. Zaya Yousef of St. George's Church said of the latest attacks. ''But this will not happen because we all live together like brothers in this country through sadness and happiness.''

The Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni clerical group, condemned the attacks.

Iraq's Christians have been fleeing the country, particularly following church attacks in August that left 11 dead. Saturday's attacks "will no doubt push people to emigrate," Father Raphael Qutaimi, acting bishop of the Syrian Catholic Church, said. "But this country has been ours for thousands of years. Our ancestors shed blood defending it. We mustn't leave ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
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Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's managing editor for news and online journalism. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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