Their cathedrals stand silent and their neighbourhoods are rapidly emptying. Now Iraq’s Christians face two further unthinkable realities: that Christmas this year is all but cancelled, and that few among them will stay around to celebrate future holy days.
It has been the worst of years for the country’s Christians, with thousands fleeing in the past month and more leaving the country during 2010 than at any time since the invasion nearly eight years ago. Christian leaders say there have been few more defining years in their 2,000-year history in central Arabia.
The latest exodus follows a massacre led by al-Qaida at a Chaldean Catholic church in central Baghdad on 31 October, which left about 60 people dead, almost 100 maimed and an already apprehensive community terrified. Since then, the terror group has targeted Christians in their homes, including family members of those who survived the attack.