Muslims have been targeting Christians for hundreds of years. Muslims were the reason my Lebanese ancestors fled from Iraq to the hills of Lebanon in the 14th Century. It is one of the reasons my Grandparents left Lebanon for New Zealand in the late 19th Century. More in my book ‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?’ . Nothing has changed. My heart goes out to the minority Christian communities in Iraq and other muslim countries. Christmas, the focal point of Christian beliefs, is a time of fear for Christians in Muslim countries instead of a time for celebration and joy. See world news item below:
BAGHDAD – Militants attacked at least four Christian homes Thursday night with a combination of grenades and bombs, killing two people and sending fear into the already terrified tiny Christian community. It was the first attack against the country’s Christian community since al-Qaida-linked militants last week threatened a wave of violence against them. Christians went so far as to tone down their Christmas celebrations in what was a peaceful holiday, but the attacks Thursday night demonstrated the intent of militants to keep up their deadly pressure on the Christian community.
In the deadliest attack, assailants in southwestern Baghdad threw two grenades inside the home of a Christian family, killing two people and injuring five more, police said. In a different neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, militants planted a bomb near a Christian home. Two people were injured in that attack. Then another bomb planted near a Christian house in western Baghdad exploded, injuring one member of the family as well as a civilian who was driving by, police said.
Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed that two people were killed Thursday evening; he said a bomb planted near the fence of a Christian home in southern Baghdad also exploded but he had no information about casualties in that incident. “The aim of these attacks is to prevent Christians from celebrating the New Year’s holiday,” al-Moussawi said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but such attacks have generally been the work of Sunni militants linked to al-Qaida. The casualties were confirmed by hospital officials. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk to reporters. The attacks are sure to ratchet up tension in the tiny Christian community still living in Baghdad. At least 68 people were killed in October when militants stormed a Baghdad church during Mass and took the congregation hostage.
Thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled to northern Iraq, fearing further attacks. Father Mukhlis, a priest at the Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad where the Oct. 31 hostage incident occurred, called the Thursday attacks “direct oppression” against Iraqi Christians.
He said one Christian family already was staying at the church because they were worried about militants targeting their home. The family was planning to travel Friday to the Ninevah Plains area of northern Iraq which is home to a large Christian community and much safer than the rest of Iraq. Last week, al-Qaida warned of further violence against Christians, leading many in the community to tone down their Christmas celebrations and cancel many events such as evening Mass and appearances by Santa Claus.
The Christmas holidays also coincide this year with the Shiite holy month of Muharam, an important holiday for the country’s Shiite Muslim majority.
Some Christians said they were also playing down the Christmas holiday this year out of respect for their Shiite neighbors, but other Christians reported intimidation by members of the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia backed by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who pressured them not to celebrate the holiday publicly. Christian leaders estimate 400,000 to 600,000 Christians still live in Iraq, according to a recent State Department report. At one time before the war, that number was as high as 1.4 million by some estimates. – Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report.
Another interesting post from: seifandbeirut.com
Lebanon has alway been home for minorities in the Middle East. A haven for those persecuted, chased out of their homes, and face destruction in their original homes. The Armenians, Palestinians, Assyrians, and even many Syrians have taken refuge inside of Lebanon over the years… their treatment, whether good or bad, has always seemed irrelevant. We simply focus on the fact that “hey, we take in all the refugees of the Middle East”.
I think its time, finally, to tackle the treatment of refugees inside the country. We have almost 250 000 – 300 000 Palestinians inside Lebanon, almost 150,000 Armenians (who are now Lebanese citizens, and not considered refugees anymore), and now 50, 000 Iraqi refugees in Lebanon. This post, for specific reasons, is going to focus specifically on the latter group as it is the most recent group of refugees in the country. Most, almost 79%, of Lebanon’s Iraqi refugees are Iraqi Christians who fled Iraq for their safety after sectarian groups threatened their safety. Now for the sake of making things clear, sectarian groups in Iraq represent very small portions of the population, keeping in mind Iraqi Christians and Muslims have lived along side each other for hundreds and hundreds of years prior to this time, with very little tensions and fighting.