The New York Times reports:
The blackened shells of five cars still sit in front of the Church of the Virgin Mary here, stark reminders of a bomb blast that killed two people after a recent Sunday Mass.
In the northern city of Mosul, a priest from the Syriac Orthodox Church was kidnapped last week. His church complied with his captors’ demands and put up posters denouncing recent comments made by the pope about Islam, but he was killed anyway. The police found his beheaded body on Wednesday.…
Many Christians have relocated, changing neighborhoods or even cities. About a thousand Christian families, from Mosul, Baghdad, Basra and elsewhere, have taken refuge in Ain Kawa, a small town outside the Kurdish city of Erbil, which has become an oasis for Christians, said the Rev. Yusuf Sabri, a priest at St. Joseph’s Chaldean Catholic Church there.…
Asaad Aziz, a 42-year-old Chaldean Catholic, is one of those trying to leave the country. After the ouster of Mr. Hussein, he bought a liquor store in a mostly Shiite neighborhood. Nine days after he opened, the store was bombed. Mr. Aziz was hospitalized for a month.
The employees rebuilt the store. But several months later, a note slipped under the door gave Mr. Aziz 48 hours to close.
“Otherwise, you will blame yourself,” it said.
Mr. Aziz closed. But after an unsuccessful stint at a friend’s printing company, he returned to the business he knew best, opening a liquor store in a mostly Christian neighborhood. Last month, a gunman riddled the new storefront with bullets as Mr. Aziz cowered in a back room.
He told another story: the teenage daughter of another Christian family he knows was kidnapped recently. The captors initially demanded a ransom, but later sarcastically said the pope was the only one who could release her. She was eventually killed.
“When the pope gave his statement, it destroyed any last hope that we had here,” said Mr. Aziz, who has forbidden his daughters, one in high school and the other in college, to return to school.…
“We cannot practice our rituals and we cannot bring food home to our families,” he said. “That’s why I want to leave the country.”…
How bad is it in Iraq? Note the attribution at the bottom of the piece:
Wisam H. Habeeb and Khalid al-Ansary contributed reporting from Baghdad, and an Iraqi employee of The New York Times from Mosul.
It seems the New York Times cannot identify it’s “employee” in Mosul, most likely because that identification would lead to the death of the employee. Way to go, Donald Rumsfeld.
And now, a thought, impractical as it is. Should Israel offer asylum to Iraqi Christians? One must wonder why the US has not. I would assume the answer has to do with security, surely the same answer Israel would give. Still, these people need refuge. Readers, any solutions?