Christians in Iraq have been severely persecuted for the last decade and a half. From once being active participants in previous governments, including that of Saddam Hussein, they now are an isolated and dwindling minority that faces constant and increasing persecution for being Christians. Such was confirmed by a recent story, which found that the ostracism they face is real and goes to the highest levels of government:
Following a heavily contested election this past spring, Iraq has at long last moved forward with the government formation process. While the parliament has formed, some key ministerial posts remain vacant. The parliament was supposed to vote on the eight vacant posts on November 6th, but failed to complete this process.
One of the vacant posts is the Ministry of Justice. Prior to the session on November 6th, rumors began to swirl that parliament was considering giving the position of Ministry of Justice to a Christian. If this were to occur, it would be a monumental step forward for Iraq. However, members of parliament instead affirmed that it is not possible for a Christian to hold this position.
The primary religion of Iraq is Islam and all of the laws are organized based on Islamic principles. Based on the current legal structure, for a Christian to officially participate in the Ministry of Justice would require an Islamic oath. Some Members of Parliament were quick to point this out as the reason why a Christian would not be confirmed to the Ministry of Justice. Instead, new rumors began to swirl that a Christian could be named as the Minister of Emigration.
Iraq’s Christians have heavily emigrated from Iraq following three massive waves of persecution following the 2003 invasion, the Baghdad church bombing in 2010, and ISIS’s takeover of the Nineveh Plains in 2014. Christians have repeatedly pointed out that rampant discrimination and marginalization, combined with failed security, have led them to experience intensive persecution leaving them no choice but to emigrate.
Iraq’s government continues in its failure to fill key cabinet positions. (source)
Christianity was brought to Iraq by St. Thomas the Apostle, who traveled the furthest of all the disciples until he was martyred in India for preaching the Faith.
Christianity in Iraq has long pre-existed Islam. Since the armies of Islam conquered the lands of Iraq scarcely four years after the death of Mohammed (who died in 632), it is not an exaggeration to say that the Christians of Iraq have been under Islamic occupation for fourteen centuries. Because Iraq occupies the lands between Turkey and Iran, and is one of the “gateway” lands to Europe either through Turkey or the Caucasus, these Christians have also seen a tremendous amount of fighting. They saw the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Seljuks, the Mongols, the Mamluks, the horrors of Tamerlane, the Ottomans, the conversion of Iran to Shia Islam, and the 19th century European imperialists. The cities of Iraq including Baghdad, Ninaveh, and Kerbala have been sacked and rebuilt and sacked and rebuilt again for centuries. Yet through all of this, the Christians survived and even participated actively in the governments of that region which constantly changed hands in the temporal struggle for power and control over the Middle East.
In 2003, there were about 25 million people living in Iraq, and over 1.5 million of those were Christians, thus about 6% of the population. This was prior to the American invasion of Iraq.
Then the invasion happened.
In the span of about 14 years, that number was down to less than 250,000 and declining, showing a drop of over 80%.
Christianity in Iraq was not destroyed by Muslims.
It was destroyed by American nationalism that did not care at all about the people, for in the name of waging war and supporting Islamic terrorists such as ISIS for geopolitical purposes, what the Muslims did not destroy for fourteen centuries was annihilated in fourteen years.
Christianity in Iraq is not coming back. It will likely have the same fate as Turkish Christianity, which again survived since the days of the Apostles until the Genocide of 1917, which was done in the name of Turkish nationalism united with Islamic ideas and supported by the Western World for geopolitical ends. There are no more Turkish Christians any more for all effective purposes, and the same will be said of Iraqi Christians.
It is very sad, and one should lament the extermination of Christianity in such ancient lands, but one cannot say that it was by accident, most of all the USA, for it was her direct actions that brought about the demise of her ancient Christian population.
Many Christians do not want to go back to Iraq, and who can blame them?