Qaeda forces Iraqis to cancel Christmas

2010-12-21 21:23

kalahari.com

Kirkuk - Al-Qaeda threats against Christians have led to Christmas festivities being cancelled in the northern Iraqi oil hub of Kirkuk, its Chaldean Catholic archbishop said on Tuesday.

"The Christians of Kirkuk will not celebrate the feast of Christmas this year, except for masses, which will not be held at night but at 10:00, after myself and 10 other Christian personages received threats from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq," Monsignor Louis Sarko told AFP.

"I fear that Christians will be targeted, which is why all ceremonies have been cancelled."

The Iraqi affiliate of al-Qaeda, the ISI, claimed responsibility for an October 31 attack on a cathedral in Baghdad in which 44 Christian worshippers, two priests and seven security force personnel were killed.

It said it acted to force the release of people who had allegedly converted to Islam from Christianity and were being detained by the Coptic Church in Egypt.

Days later it declared Christians everywhere "legitimate targets".

Less than two weeks after the church attack, a string of bombings targeting Christian homes and shops in Baghdad killed six more people.

Mujahedeen threats serious

"You would have to be blind not to take seriously the demands of the mujahedeen (holy warriors), and that will cost you dearly," Sarko quoted an ISI e-mail as saying.

"You must listen to our demands and condemn the Christians in the church in Egypt who are fighting our brothers and sisters who have become Muslims.

"You must make the same effort to free our sisters who are imprisoned in the churches of Egypt that you do to save Tareq Aziz from hanging."

Aziz, the only senior Christian member of Saddam Hussein's regime, was handed the death penalty on October 26 for the suppression of Shi'ite religious parties in the 1980s.

Sarko's announcement comes a day after human rights group Amnesty International called on the Iraqi government to step up protection of Christians.

Amnesty "called on the Iraqi government to do more to protect the country's Christian minority from an expected spike in violent attacks as they prepare to celebrate Christmas," the London-based group said in a statement.

"Attacks on Christians and their churches by armed groups have intensified in past weeks and have clearly included war crimes," Malcolm Smart, Amnesty's director for the Middle East and north Africa, said in the statement.

"We fear that militants are likely to attempt serious attacks against Christians during the Christmas period for maximum publicity and to embarrass the government," Smart added.

Between 800 000 and 1.2 million Christians lived in Iraq at the time of the US-led invasion of 2003 that toppled Saddam's regime, but their number has since dropped to about 500 000 as many have fled abroad.

The multi-ethnic oil hub of Kirkuk now has only some 10 000 Christians, compared with 50 000 before the invasion.

Read more on:    iraq  |  religion
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Parow - 12:55 PM
    Road name: Giel Basson Drive
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at the N1 Highway
  • Tuesday Goodwood - 12:32 PM
    Road name: N7 Vanguard Drive Southbound
    DELAY between the N1 Highway and Milton Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

40% off appliances & homeware

Get mind blowing deals on top selling appliances and homeware. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Lenovo A1000 tablet now R999!

Get the Lenovo A1000 tablet for only R999! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

New gobii smartphones from R999!

Front and rear camera's, dual SIM capability and 200MB of FREE Cell C data every month for 12 months, are just some of the many features on these smartphones. Get yours now! Shop here.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy S III 16GB

There are no straight lines in nature. The Samsung  GALAXY...

From R3795.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It may be hard to avoid an argument or heated conversation today. Someone may be stirring things up and testing your patience. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.