|Iraqi church before the exodus. (file photo)|
As a result, thousands of Christians have left the Iraqi city since 2003 when U.S. forces deposed Saddam Hussein. The war triggered a wave of continuous violence in the second-largest city in Iraq.
Before 2003, Mosul was home to 75,000 Christians. Approximately 70% belonged to the Chaldean Church, while the rest were Syriac Orthodox and Catholic. Now approximately 25,000 Christians live in Mosul, which has a population of 2 million. Many more Christians live in the surrounding Nineveh province.
Dr. Carl Moeller, Open Doors USA President/CEO, labels the attacks against Christians in Mosul and all of Iraq as "religicide." He states: "Christians in cities like Baghdad and Mosul are gripped by terrorism. They are fleeing in droves.
Today it was reported that at least 20 people died in blasts and shootings across the country.
"With the spotlight currently on Syria, Nigeria, Afghanistan and the pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq last December, Iraq has been placed on the back-burner. But we as Christians in the West must continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Iraq who face extinction if we don't pray and advocate for them."
Almost no day passes without someone being killed by bombs or bullets in the city, which is the capital of Nineveh province. The violence targets Christians but also policemen, soldiers or officials working for the government. In the midst of all this, it's not difficult to find examples of growing hostility toward Christians. In May, for example, it was reported that 20 families living in Mosul received threatening letters. The letters said that they had to move out of Mosul or face possible violence or kidnapping.
A Mosul Christian said terrorists in Mosul visited four real estate agents, asking the names of Christians who recently sold their houses. With this information, they know who has money and might be possible targets for kidnappings. "One of the agents refused to give information to the terrorists and was killed," said a spokesman for Open Doors.
Also in Mosul, the house of a Christian was set on fire, and the police dismantled a bomb placed in the car of another Christian.
General Ahmed M. Aljaboury, director general of the Mosul police, said: "Between 2005 and 2011, our operational command recorded the assassination of about 69 Christians, including university students, priests, female employees and housewives."
Two waves of killings and intimidation in 2008 and 2010 sent Christians fleeing from Mosul in such haste that the United Nations had to arrange emergency assistance. Many Christians have fled to Turkey, Jordan, Europe and the United States.
Before the Gulf War in 1991, the number of Christians in Iraq--ranked No. 9 on the Open Doors 2012 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians--was estimated to be over 1 million. That number fell to an estimated 850,000 in 2003. Since then, the numbers have plummeted. Open Doors estimates the number of Christians remaining in Iraq at 345,000. However, the number decreases every month.
The role of Open Doors in Iraq includes distributing Bibles and Christian literature to churches and Internally Displaced People; supporting a project which translates literature, including the Bible, into the Kurdish languages; training of church leaders and new Christians; and training leaders in trauma counseling, especially to children.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world's most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our Web site at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.