01 August 2017

Baghdad churches close as Iraq's Christians continue to leave

Eight churches in Baghdad have closed their doors permanently due to the mass exodus of believers from Iraq.

The decision, made by the Vatican earlier this year, comes after seven years of falling or no attendance and is symbolic of the wholesale emigration of Christians from the Middle East.

Amounting to nearly 10 per cent of Iraq's population at the start of the 21st century, Christians made up 40 per cent of those fleeing from the start of the Iraq War in 2003 to 2007, leaving just a handful behind.

International Christian Concern, a persecution charity, has documented this decline and points to three stages of Christians fleeing Iraq, the first from 2005-2007, the second in 2010 when extremists attacked a church during Sunday mass and the third stage in 2014 when ISIS attacked the Nineveh Plain.

As Iraq descended into sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia groups after the removal of Saddam Hussein, Christians became an easy target for both sides, ICC says. [Christian Today] Read more