Did you know Iraq has a sizable Christian population? Well, not for much longer. There were over a million of them before the fall of Saddam Hussein, with some estimates ranging as high as 1.4 million. Now, according to a State Department report quoted by the Associated Press, only four to six hundred thousand remain… and their final exodus is well under way.
On October 31st, an affiliate of al-Qaeda stormed the Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad, using guns, bombs and grenades to kill 52 civilians and police, while wounding 67 more. One of the priests, Father Wassim Sabih, was gunned down as he clutched a crucifix and begged his killers to spare his congregation.
In the days following the initial attack, a series of bombs were detonated at the homes of Baghdad Christians, killing another eight people. One of the blasts killed a man and his 6-year old daughter together. Meanwhile, in the city of Mosul, two Christian brothers were gunned down at the welding shop they owned, while an elderly woman was strangled in her home.
The attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Church was by no means the first incident of violence against the Iraqi Christian community. Over a dozen churches have been bombed since 2004. Several priests, plus the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, have been abducted and murdered.
The Iraqi Human Rights Minister, a Christian named Wijdan Michael, perceptively described the massive October attack as “more than a catastrophic and tragic event. In my opinion, it is an attempt to force Iraqi Christians to leave Iraq and to empty Iraq of Christians.” The attempt has been highly successful. Thousands of Christians have fled to the Kurdish enclaves, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. The Kurdish government has been working to assist the refugees, and is considering proposals to allow them to work in the Kurdish government, and study at their universities. Better than fifteen thousand Iraqi Christians have relocated to the United States.
The plight of the Iraqi Christians has much in common with forced population movements around the world. Manufactured exodus is a brutally effective way to control the future… which belongs, to paraphrase America Alone author Mark Steyn, to those who are around to claim it. There is not a continent on the globe which has not borne witness to bloody feet plodding into exile at the point of guns or spears. The modern West grapples with the question of integrating faiths and cultures which are not always tolerant of each other, while trying to respect the rights and freedoms of all. In the darkness that circles the light of the West, there is a much simpler solution with an ancient pedigree: get rid of inconvenient minorities altogether. Every continent has a Trail of Tears. Quite a few of them end in mass graves.
Sometimes exodus is manufactured through the infusion of an alien population, as the Chinese have worked to accomplish for decades in Tibet, or Islam has undertaken in certain areas of France and England. Other times, undesirable people are simply erased. The career of the monstrous Helen Thomas was finally ended when she snapped that Jews should “go back to Poland and Germany,” reversing an exodus that was processed with fire and poison gas.
Most of the manufactured exodus in the world today has one thing in common: the targets are Christians. Individual incidents may make headlines, especially if they’re as bloody as the attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Church, but rarely does the media try to put the big picture together. Those who thirst for power and religious purity in the twilight corners of the Earth increasingly find Christians an intolerable obstacle to their ambitions. In addition to the drive for Islamic dominance, there is the manner in which Enlightenment ideals tend to spring from Judeo-Christian soil, and these ideals are toxic to dictators of every persuasion.
Just yesterday, a group of “demonstrators” from three hard-line Islamic groups drove a hundred worshippers out of their church in Indonesia. What is going on in Iraq is happening almost everywhere in the Third World and Middle East, at varying rates of speed.
It seems unlikely anything can stop the exodus from Iraq now. Writing in National Review Online, the Hudson Institute’s Nina Shea says, “There is no Obama policy, not even a safe-haven or refugee policy, designed specifically to help Iraq’s Christians as they confront religious cleansing.” She quotes an Iraqi refugee saying, “It’s exactly what happened to the Jews.” The civilized world said “Never again” after that inhuman crime, but didn’t really mean it. As long as the aggressors choose the right victims, and avoid setting up concentration camps that can be captured on Western cameras, exodus is still quite possible to manufacture. The Iraqi Christian community has been halved in less than five years. In another five, they’ll be a memory.