Christians in Iraq continue to suffer since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. CBS News reports:
No decorations, no midnight Mass. Even an appearance by Santa Claus has been nixed after Iraq’s Christian leaders called off Christmas celebrations amid new al Qaeda threats on the tiny community still terrified from a bloody siege on a Baghdad church.
Christians across Iraq have been living in fear since the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church as its Catholic congregation was celebrating Sunday Mass. Sixty-eight people were killed. Days later Islamic insurgents bombed Christian homes and neighborhoods across the capital.
In addition Christians continue to emigrate out since our invasion.
Even before the Oct. 31 church attack, thousands of Christians were fleeing Iraq. They make up more than a third of the 53,700 Iraqis resettled in the United States since 2007, according to State Department statistics.
Few reliable statistics exist on the number of Christians remaining in this nation of 29 million. A recent State Department report says Christian leaders estimate there are 400,000 to 600,000, down from a prewar level of some 1.4 million.
As bad as it is for Iraqi Christians, I think it might be overly simplistic to reactively lay all the responsibility on the 2003 U.S. invasion which is what precipitated the heightened persecution of these people. Conditions were changing in the Middle East after 9/11 and given Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical tendencies, it’s hard to determine how he would have reacted towards some of his people given these new conditions. While he mostly governed as a secularist who favored Sunni’s due to tribalism, he might very well have been tempted to frame fight against his enemies as a war between Islam and Christianity, which matches rhetoric he began to use as the looming U.S. invasion in 2003 neared.
I think still the U.S. still has culpability, but we should remember the broader context prior, during, and after as well.