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Iraq: Dire Need for Safe Haven from Genocide

June 6, 2007

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 432 |

After celebrating evening mass on Sunday 3 June, Fr Ragheed Ganni
(35) left Mosul\'s Chaldean Church of the Holy Spirit at 6.40pm with
his three young and vibrant sub-deacons Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid
Hanna Isho, Gassan Isam Bidawed, and Gassan\'s wife. As their car
approached the corner it was ambushed by armed Islamic militants who
pulled the Christians out of the car, ordered Gassan\'s wife to stand
clear and then shot the four men dead.

Fear of Islamic militants and snipers caused church members to wait
until 10pm before they could retrieve the bodies under the cover of
darkness. Fr Ganni, who was born in Mosul, northern Iraq, held
degrees in engineering and theology. According to Compass Direct, he
had recently declined the opportunity to do further study in Rome,
choosing to remain with his congregation which had declined by 70
percent over recent years, due to emigration as Christians with means
flee their homeland. Mosul\'s Church of the Holy Spirit had received
many threats and was bombed on 27 May. On 28 May Fr Ganni told Asia
News, \'We are on the verge of collapse.\' The death of these church
leaders will have an enormous, devastating impact on the remnant
Christian community in Mosul.

The situation for Christians in Iraq is almost beyond words. In the
major cities of Baghdad (centre) and Al-Basrah (south) traditionally
Christian districts have been almost completely ethnically and
religiously \'cleansed\'. Both Sunni and Shiite criminals and militants
threaten the Christians. In the Sunni regions Christians are
increasingly being targeted by the al-Qaeda-affiliated \'Islamic State
in Iraq\'. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) quoted the Iraqi
daily \'Al-Bayyinah\' report on 10 May that there are some 200 Saudi
gunmen terrorising the remnant Christians in al-Durah (the Christian
district of Baghdad), demanding jizya (tribute mandated in the Quran,
Sura 9:29). If Christians refuse they must convert to Islam and give
their daughters to the mujahideen for marriage. If they choose to
flee, they must forfeit all their possessions to the mujahideen. The
\'Islamic State in Iraq\' is also extorting enormous payments from
Christians wanting to stay and huge \'exit\' fees from those choosing
to flee. According to RFE/RL, 27 churches have been destroyed since
2003 and dozens of other churches and monasteries have been abandoned
due to threats and terrorism.

Most of Iraq\'s remnant and displaced Christians are now in the
relatively less dangerous northern Iraq. However, a major
conflagration between Turkey, Kurdish separatists and nationalists,
and Arabs (al-Qaeda / Sunni nationalists / Shiite nationalists) may
be imminent. Turkey has massed troops at the Iraq border and some
shelling has begun. On 2 June saboteurs (probably Sunni) bombed the
Sarhat Bridge, a vital link between Kurdish territory in the north
and Baghdad. As one observer lamented to AINA (Assyrian International
News Agency), \'Unless something is done and quickly, the lasting
legacy of this war will be the genocide of the Christians and other
minorities of Iraq.\'

PLEASE PRAY FOR GOD TO:

* burst through the darkness and all the enemies of Christ, for
the preservation of his people.

And David said, \'"The Lord has burst through my enemies like a raging
flood." Therefore the name of that place is called Baal- perazim.\' (2
Samuel 5:20 ESV - Baal-perazim means the Lord who bursts forth, or
the Lord who breaks through.)

* reach down his mighty arm and intervene: may he direct the
hearts of leaders according to his will (Proverbs 21:1), and
provide safe haven for his people, for the sake of his Church,
his Kingdom and his great and glorious name.

\'See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for
him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies
him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in
his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those
that have young.\' (Isaiah 40:10,11 NIV).

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
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RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.