The Christian community in Iraq, and other minority faiths, have been “broken and scattered” by two decades of violence and suffering – from the 2003 US-UK invasion and warfare, through ISIS terror, to today’s “daily life discrimination’ under the Islamist Iraqi government imposing sharia law.
Such was the sober assessment of Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana of the ancient Assyrian Church of the East, a Christian humanitarian aid pioneer in Iraq, at the recent Edinburgh ‘Scotland Day’ of Embrace the Middle East, which supports his work.
Over these years the Church in Iraq has diminished from 3.2 per cent of the population in 2003 to a mere 0.1 per cent today – through death and diaspora.
The post-invasion collapse of all functioning government left religious minorities as ‘soft targets’ for Muslim terrorists: shops, churches and other institutions of Christians and Yazidis were destroyed; many thousands of Christian families fled Iraq to escape ongoing war, usually going to Jordan or Europe. Some returned when the situation seemed settled, but ISIS’ seizure of two-thirds of Iraq in 2014 saw thousands of Christians slaughtered and raped under its terror.