Saturday, December 25, 2004

Taking the Christ Out of Christmas - In Iraq

An interesting post over at Juan Cole about yet another unfortunate product of our adventure in Iraq - the oppression of Iraqi Christians:
Iraq's approximately 700,000 Christians actually are having to hide their celebrations for fear of violence from radical Muslim extremists. Borzou Daragahi reports that most Iraqi Christians are declining to put out Christmas lights or symbols, and many are attending daytime masses or none at all for fear of car bombs. Many masses have even been cancelled by the churches

US enmity with Syria can only worsen the situation.
Thousands of Christians have fled Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Estimates vary widely, from just 10,000 to as many as 200,000. Most have moved to Jordan, Syria or Lebanon, all of them relatively hospitable to Christians. The Baath regime had been generally tolerant of Christians, since it stressed Arab nationalism rather than Islam as the basis of the state.

A conference on Christian-Muslim dialogue was held recently in Baathist Syria, where major Christian and Muslim figures spoke about harmony between Christians and Muslims. Most Syrian Christians support the Baath government because it provides tolerance to them, and they know that were it to fall, it would likely be replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood. About 10 percent of Syria's 18 million citizens are Christian.

Ironically, the Bush administration wants to overthrow the Syrian government, risking the same kind of destabilization there that has so hurt Iraqis--including Iraqi Christians.

Of course the neocons have no love for Christianity (except when it furthers their interests) and protecting Chrisitians (or Kurds or Sunnis or anybody else) is the furthest thing from their minds.


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