Iraq: Two recent incidents of gunfire outside churches reflect broader campaign of intimidation against Christians

January 18, 2019

The ordeal and tragedy of Christians in Iraq, both Orthodox and those of other faith traditions, continues. Nearly all of the Orthodox Christians in Iraq were displaced during the period of war and strife that began early in the 21st century. Most of them even now are still refugees and have been unable to return home. Many don’t think it is safe to return even though ISIS has largely been driven out of the lands it once controlled, and this story shows why: the Shia “Popular Mobilization Units” are now carrying on campaigns of intimidation outside churches.

Please continue to pray for the Christians of Iraq, and that the Shabak, coming now after every other group that has targeted Christians in recent years, will not succeed in bringing about the total extinction of Christianity in that troubled nation.

“Church gunfire ‘part of intimidation campaign against Iraq’s Christians,'” by Alex Williams, Premier, January 17, 2019:

Two recent incidents of gunfire outside churches in northern Iraq reflect a broader campaign of “intimidation” against Christians in the country, it has been claimed.

Men claiming to be part of a wedding party fired their automatic weapons into the air for 30 minutes outside St George’s Syrian Catholic Church in the town of Bartella.

Local authorities failed to respond to the illegal incident which happened on 1st December 2018.

Meanwhile, a similar shooting incident took place outside a Syriac Catholic church in nearby Qaraqosh one week later.

The perpetrators identified themselves as members of the Popular Mobilisation Units, an Iran-backed paramilitary group which played a major role in the liberation of the Nineveh Plains from Islamic State (IS) extremists.

They also belong to the Shabak, a Shi’a Muslim ethnic group in Iraq which has been accused of infringing onto Christian villages through unlawful land purchases.

Middle East Concern (MEC), a Christian charity which promotes the freedoms of Christians throughout the region, said authorities had done nothing in response to the shootings.

A statement read: “To date, there have been no efforts to investigate these incidents, bring the perpetrators to justice or to protect the Christian community and church buildings in Bartella and Qaraqosh.

“Christians in Iraq strongly experience this as intimidation aimed at increasing their feelings of vulnerability and fear.”…