Iraq’s Christians are following in the pattern of other Middle Eastern Christians as they seek emigration to the West, partly due to a new wave of Islamic growth, reports the World Press Review (January).
Iraqi Christians, numbering abut 500,000 (and comprising 2-3 percent of the population), have long been protected by the secular government, but as Sadaam Hussein seeks to win Muslim favor, churches and individual believers have faced new restrictions. Aside from the re-Islamicization (such as the prohibition of alcohol) taking place, other recently passed legislation stipulates that the family members of any Christian who converts to Islam must also convert themselves.
In the Christian strongholds of northern Iraq, lands lying fallow were given to Muslim members of the military, where mosques were built, preferably in front of churches. This led to skirmishes between Christian and Islamic communities that, along with the assassination of a nun and other acts of violence, are convincing Christians to leave the country for safety rather than (as in the past) economic reasons.
The Christian minority also fears that if the U.S. goes to war against Iraq, the Wahabbis and other militants will take advantage of the turmoil and destroy the community, declaring Iraq an Islamic nation, reports Alain Delair.
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