Christian Persecution in Iraq Getting Worse
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Christians in Iraq are facing severe persecution from Islamic radicals.
That's the message a minister from Baghdad delivered to a committee on religious freedom in Washington.
"They have been, as we heard earlier, kidnapped, killed, tortured, massacred."
The Reverend Canon Andrew White testified Tuesday at this hearing of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
White leads an Anglican Church in Baghdad. Though it started small, the church has grown to 1,300 people in recent years.
"It is an Anglican church, and none of my people are Anglicans," White said. "They simply come to church because it is the closest church to come to in the midst of great danger."
Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., is the only Assyrian Christian member of Congress.
Se testified that nearly half of all Iraqi Christians have fled the country due to intense persecution since the beginning of the war in 2003.
"They represent the oldest surviving Christian population in the world and one that, without help, is literally facing the brink of extinction," Eshoo said.
Recently, things have gotten even worse.
"In the last three or four months, things have deteriorated very considerably. Things are bad for everybody in Iraq," White said.
White says he was given some disturbing news at a congregational meeting this month.
"I said to them, tell me what has happened over the past week. And the people went through what had happened and I realized that 36 of my congregation in that past week had been kidnapped. None of them have been returned."
White also says Iraq's government is weak and corrupt and that U.S. troops have failed to protect Iraqi Christians.