By: FA ME
The bombing of the Virgin of Fatima Church in Mosul, Iraq yesterday brings the total to seven churches bombed since this past Saturday evening. The attacks came even though Iraqi Christian sources warned of the impending attacks days ago.
Christian sources received warnings of the impending attacks 5 days ago through text messages and immediately passed the information on to U.S. forces. Under new security arrangements, U.S. forces were unable to act themselves but ensured the Iraqi military was notified. Michael Youash, Project Director of the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project, stated, “There was clearly a failure to take preventative steps by Iraqi and U.S. forces which allowed those planning the attacks to carry them out unimpeded.”
The bombings come as Iraqi forces assume full control of Iraq’s cities and towns under the Status of Forces Agreement and as U.S. withdrawal plans move ahead. Iraqi military and security forces are now guarding all churches, including in Nineveh Plain, which was also threatened with bombings. Two weeks ago (June 29th) in the Nineveh Plain, the district hospital located in Qaraqoush was bombed killing 8.
It is becoming clear that as U.S. withdrawal plans move forward, and tensions between Kurds and Arabs escalate, the Christian people and other ethno-religious minorities will see greater deliberate targeting. This targeting is not new, and since 2003, an ethno-religious cleansing campaign has been waged against them. Not less than 1 in 3 Iraqi Christians has become a refugee and an even greater percentage of people are internally displaced. And sought refuge in Nineveh Plain.
It is essential for the U.S. Government to develop a policy to save Iraq’s defenseless ethno-religious minorities. Along with a substantial increase of formal Iraqi local police and security drawn from the minority communities being targeted, should be the cornerstones of a policy. The United States Congress spelled-out and affirmed this policy direction on Thursday, July 9th, 2009 as they passed the FY 2010 State and Foreign Operations Appropriation which includes the budget for Iraq. We hope everyone is listening to Congress’ policy solutions, if not, the crisis will become irreversible.
Pope Condemns the Attacks:
Pope Benedict XVI condemned the latest attacks against Christians in Iraq and urged the country’s authorities to increase efforts to ‘promote peace’ between the various religious communities, the Vatican’s newspaper reported Monday.
Benedict made the appeal in a message to the Catholic Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, the daily L’Osservatore Romano said.
The pontiff was referring to Sunday night’s attack on a church in eastern Baghdad that left at least seven dead and 30 injured as well as several other bombings targeting churches in the city.
Benedict offered condolences for the dead in the church bombing and his ‘spiritual closeness’ to the Iraqi capital’s Catholic and Orthodox Christian communities, while praying for the ‘a conversion in the hearts of those responsible for the violence.’