Christians in Iraq request prayer following a spate of violence in Baghdad in recent weeks in which Christians and Mandeans were attacked, leaving five dead.
On 25 February, gunmen shot 28-year-old Samir Salah-Addin Younis, a Christian father of two. On 10 March, four men entered the house of Hisham Al Maskouny, a Christian doctor, and stabbed him to death. When his wife (Dr Shaza Malik Dinno) and her mother (Khairiyah Dawood Adada) tried to assist him, they were also killed. Their house was looted. That same week, a member of the Mandean religious community was kidnapped at his shop and was later found dead, while another Mandean survived a stabbing.
On 11 March, the Ministry of Interior announced that four men had been arrested, but no further news about the cases have been made public.
Although the motive seems to be criminal, these incidents are reminiscent of similar attacks on Christians and other minorities in Baghdad and Basra in the early 2000s. Those attacks sparked the emigration of tens of thousands of Christians.
Churches in Baghdad declared a state of mourning and Christians were asked to wear black ribbons. Iraq’s Minister of Interior visited Samir’s family to offer condolences. The Vice President and the Parliament Speaker denounced the crimes as ‘a threat to national unity’, and noted that the attacks were designed to ’empty major Iraqi cities of Christians and other minorities.’
Christian leaders denounced the targeting of their community and warned against another wave of migration, as did the Iraqi Fiqh Board, the highest academic Islamic authority in the country. The UN representative in Iraq called on the government to protect minorities and warned about the effect of these attacks on the future of Iraqi minorities.
Christians in Iraq asked us to pray that:
a. the families of the victims will know the comfort of the Holy Spirit
b. Iraq’s Christian communities will know the peace of Jesus and the protection of the Father during these turbulent times
c. those intent on violence towards Christians and other religious minority communities, would be brought to repentance and find forgiveness and new life in Jesus
d. security would be strengthened, perpetrators brought to justice and the rule of law established throughout Iraq
e. there would be greater tolerance and respect between Iraq’s various ethnic and religious communities.